Landscapes 17

Leslie Ann Withers Washburn

February 22, 1954 ~ April 8, 2022 (age 68)


Thousand Oaks, CA

Leslie Ann Withers Washburn passed away peacefully on April 8, 2022. She was born on February 22, 1954 in Louisville Kentucky to Dorsey Ann Leet Withers and Louis William Withers, the third of four children and definitely the coolest.

“The Great Leslie” was and has always been gregarious and sociable, with a vibrant spirit and uncanny energy. To all those who knew her, Leslie seemed invincible. The family moved often during her early school years, but that didn’t stop Leslie from making friends at school and in the neighborhood. As a four-year old, she set up a lemonade stand in Albuquerque with her sister Missy, with a ready clientele from construction workers in her rapidly expanding suburban neighborhood. Later the family moved to a small house in Pacific Palisades with an oversized lot filled with exotic fruit trees. Leslie harvested the fruits, loaded them in her little red wagon, and sold them door to door down the street of the neighborhood. She was friendly and popular and was constantly surrounded by gaggles of friends. By the 5th grade, in 1964, the family settled in Thousand Oaks, and Leslie became part of the very first full graduating class from Redwood Intermediate School. She attended Thousand Oaks High School, making friends and causing a commotion, worked part-time at the former Melody Theatre in the old Park Oaks shopping center, and graduated from TOHS in 1972. From there, she immediately moved on to bigger and better things.

She worked a variety of jobs at a jewelry exchange and in the publishing department of Cal Fed and Citi National Bank before becoming a photo typesetter and editor for Unique Publications, a sports magazine publisher. She first met her beloved Russell Dean “Russ” Washburn in 1974. They instantly fell in love, one thing led to another, and they were married on February 14, 1982.

In the meantime, they reveled in countless adventures. An old 1962 Chevy panel truck served as an adventure camper van long before van life was a “thing.” From skiing in Tahoe to sojourns in the van deep into Mexico, to camping and fishing in the high Sierra, Leslie was never afraid to try anything. She even went on a three-night wilderness backpacking trip with her brother Mark in the Sierras, finishing despite horrific blisters that would have stopped lesser trekkers. Leslie and Russ climbed the pyramids of Mexico, rode horses on the beach of Puerto Vallarta, and went on a jungle cruise in San Blas. Russ tried to teach her to surf in San Blas, but her vision without glasses was too bad to find the surfboard in the ocean after she wiped out. During one trip to Mexico, the panel truck cracked a head in Aguascalientes, and then later threw a rod through the pan in Rosarito. They managed to get it back home and rebuilt it in time for ski season, then took off on a trip to Utah.

Leslie loved to ski and spent many days in Utah and Tahoe, often meeting up with her friend Lisa. Typically for them, Leslie and Russ took off to Utah in January of 1975 without a plan, stopping at the 4 Queens in Las Vegas around midnight. Despite being underage and against the advice of the more experienced Russ, Leslie started playing quarter slots, winning one after another, until by 3 am she had won enough money to pay for the whole week of skiing in the Wasatch Mountains.

When Russ committed to pursuing law school and a career as an attorney in the early 1980s, Leslie switched gears and went to work for a law firm in Beverly Hills, helping the firm pioneer the adoption of a newfangled $100,000 word processing system (a fortune for office equipment at the time). She went on to teach the newly created vocation of word processing at several technical and community colleges around the L.A. basin and was instrumental in launching the word processing teaching program at the Los Angeles Community College District. In 1983, Leslie and Russ bought their first home in Van Nuys, which became the go-to destination for family birthdays, holidays, and events, including a World Series viewing party when Kirk Gibson hit the most famous home run in Dodgers’ history.

In 1989, life changed forever when Leslie and Russ welcomed their son, Ryan Dean Washburn, into the world. Leslie was a doting and protective “mama bear,” and she was fiercely devoted and nurturing with her family. Family was everything, and Leslie cherished nothing more than spending time and celebrating holidays with her family. Even with work, her family, and adventures, Leslie still somehow found time to finish her B.S. degree in Business Administration.

Leslie was crushed by the death of her dear Mom in 1990 but devoted herself even more to her family and friends. When Ryan started school, Leslie returned with her family to Thousand Oaks, where Ryan attended some of the same schools where Leslie had studied. They bought their home overlooking a canyon in Lynn Ranch, and one of her first projects was installing a pool and spa.

And of course, the adventures never stopped. Leslie loved to sail. She first picked up her zest for sailing on her Dad’s sailboat. She made countless trips to the Channel Islands, including a trip spent crewing with her friends to victory on an old wooden boat in a wooden boat race in Ventura. She sailed aboard the Nereid with her good friends Jim and Debbie Dyer out of La Paz in Baja California, and she sailed aboard the Majong in Maine and the Caribbean.

In the World According to Leslie, trip planning is for rookies. Leslie and Russ loved to take off on vacation with no plans except to have an adventure. Once in the mid-1980s, they found themselves with a week off and no plans. Leslie called Southwest Airlines and said get me on the next plane out of town. They hurried to the airport with minimal packing, found themselves on a plane to Albuquerque, went from there to Santa Fe where they bought a tent, lantern, and camp stove, and made it into the Rockies and Taos for a great trip.

In 1988, they flew to London with a rental car waiting and spent the next three weeks in England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Italy, France, and Monaco, with no itinerary and no advance hotel reservation. They had so much fun, they went on a similar trip in 1992, meeting up with Leslie’s brother Mark in the Netherlands and again at the base of the Eifel Tower.

In 1996 they travelled to the Olympics in Atlanta with Ryan and stayed with her brother Mark in Athens. They attended Olympic baseball events, toured the Olympic Park, and attended the Olympic soccer finals. Then in 1997, Leslie took Ryan on a European tour followed by a family tour with Russ in Washington, D.C., Boston, and the northeastern seaboard, where they met up with the Dyers in Camden, Maine, for the inaugural voyage on the Majong. Leslie loved Victoria on Vancouver Island and made several visits.

Leslie liked to cook and, as in everything else she did, she became quite the gourmet. She was always trying out new recipes and always altering them to taste for the better. She loved cooking for Ryan and her grandson Shane, and she worked hard to have a home-cooked meal for a family sit-down dinner together every night. And nothing made her happier than cooking and baking with Ryan and later Shane to hand down her talents, such that they are both competent in the kitchen and Ryan has become quite the grillmaster. She also enjoyed the ritual of teaming with her sister Missy at the holidays to bake cookies for the family and friends and especially for Ryan and Shane’s elementary school classes.

Leslie poured her boundless energy into holidays. Christmas was her favorite time of year, when she could exercise her unsurpassed bargain-hunting skills and demonstrate her generosity to family and friends. The living room on Christmas day was always unpassable with her beautifully wrapped presents and magnificent bows. Easter was always time for a great get-together. Everyone knew that you could show up at Leslie’s for ham, scalloped potatoes au gratin, and an easter egg hunt. Not an Easter passed for over 40 years that the Easter Bunny didn’t leave a basket or two for Russ, then Russ and Ryan, then Russ and Ryan and Shane.

While helping Russ to build his law practice, Leslie was a devoted Mom to Ryan and like her own Mom before became an instant Little League and youth soccer fan. Most of all, she loved gatherings with family and friends. After Ryan finished school, Leslie took many opportunities to regularly travel to Seattle to visit her brother Mark’s family and join in with her nephew Dylan’s and niece Annie’s school and sports activities.

In 2011, Leslie, Russ, and Ryan welcomed Shane, the newest family member and her beloved grandson. Leslie became a proud, devoted, and giddy grandma to Shane. Shane renewed Leslie’s love of all things kids. Leslie became probably the biggest fan ever for Shane’s Little League and soccer teams, hosted birthday parties and other kid gatherings, and generally did whatever possible to have fun with Shane, his brother Michael, his sisters, and friends. She continued camping, fishing, skiing, and even tried golf. Somehow, she found time to be a loving aunt to David, Dylan, and Annie. She also renewed old bonds with her sister Missy, and accompanied her on shopping trips, country drives, and trips to the beach after Missy could no longer drive. During these times, Missy and Leslie shared many old memories and renewed the strong bonds of sisterhood. The adventures continued with travels and a visit to Alaska.

In recent years, Leslie worked hard and battled to recover from a devastating car accident, while remaining devoted to her family and never letting the accident slow her down. In fact, she celebrated her 66th birthday on the ski hill at Mountain High with her son Ryan and grandson Shane. She remained once and forever, “The Great Leslie.”

She is survived by her husband Russ; son Ryan; grandson Shane; sister “Missy”; and brother Mark. She is preceded in death by her mother Ann; father Louis; and brother Jan.

Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Friday April 22 at Griffin Family Funeral Chapels, 101 E. Wilbur Rd., Thousand Oaks. Funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday April 23, also at Griffin Family Funeral Chapels, Thousand Oaks. Interment will follow at Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leslie, please visit our floral store.


April 22, 2022

5:00 PM
Griffin Family Funeral Chapels, Thousand Oaks
101 E. WIlbur Rd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Funeral Service
April 23, 2022

2:00 PM
Griffin Family Funeral Chapels, Thousand Oaks
101 E. WIlbur Rd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

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