‘They are leaving a legacy.’ The Lesslie family’s dedication to serving others

Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Much has been said this week about the beloved Lesslie family and their selflessness towards the community.

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, was among five people killed in a shooting at a home in York County Wednesday.

Lesslie’s wife, 69-year-old Barbara Lesslie, and two grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie, were also killed. According to the York County Sheriff’s Office, all four were found in a bedroom of the home with gunshot wounds.

A fifth victim, identified as 38-year-old James Lewis, from Gaston County, N.C., was working at the home when he was fatally shot, according to the York County coroner’s office. A sixth person who was reportedly working with Lewis, identified as Robert Shook, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries from gunshot wounds.

The Lesslie’s were members of the First ARP Church in Rock Hill. Robert was an elder and his wife Barbara taught Bible lessons and they both served on the Just Joy ministry. They also dedicated over 20 years to a yearly summer camp for people with special needs known as Camp Joy.

Camp Joy CEM Executive Director Brent Turner says Robert and Barbara were the types of people who went “all-in” and were adored by so many campers.

One woman told WBTV her sister-in-law attended the camp for nearly 40 years and that the Lesslie’s were so special to her and other campers.

Turner says Robert and Barbara didn’t just dedicate their time and service, they made it a family affair.

“Both of them made sure that their kids were counselors and after they’ve gotten older their kids were staff and even their grandkids kept coming and they actually helped with Camp Joy. It was a family situation, what a legacy to leave,” he said.

A legacy of compassion and love. Turner says Barbara was affectionately known as Mrs. B by campers.

“His wife was an amazing Bible teacher she got to know each and every camper individually,” he said.

Outside of his role as a physician, Turner says Dr. Lesslie was a great listener who jumped into any and all activities.

“They were there dancing with the campers...helping other campers with puppets or whatever they needed help with,” he said.

That same servant leadership flowed all the way to their grandchildren, Adah and Noah.

Thursday, one day after the horrific crime, a family statement encouraged anyone who wanted to give to remember the kids and their grandparents, to stock free pantries or libraries like the kids would.

Turner says the Lesslie’s can never be replaced but will always be remembered, as will the joy they gave.

“They are leaving a legacy, a legacy that we all need to give,” he said.

The family is encouraging anyone who would like to send memorials or gifts to send them to Camp Joy North Carolina at 918 South Pleasantburg Dr., Greenville, SC 29607.

A prayer vigil for the Lesslie’s is scheduled for this Sunday at Fountain Park at 6 p.m.

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