In Memoriam: Robert Leslie, former James and Clarice Foster Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Counseling

June 18, 2006

Robert Cambell Leslie, the James and Clarice Foster Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Counseling at PSR, died June 14 in Napa, CA, at the age of 89. An ordained United Methodist minister, Leslie taught here from 1954 to 1982 and at the Graduate Theological Union from 1962 to 1982. He also served as PSR dean for two periods, first at the end of the 1970s and again in the early 1980s. 

Born in Concord, MA, in 1917, Leslie graduated from DePauw University in 1939. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II in the South Pacific (1943-1946) before earning a PhD in the psychology of religion at Boston University in 1948. For six years he was a mental hospital chaplain and part-time teacher at Boston University School of Theology before coming to PSR in 1954.

His first sabbatical leave from the seminary, in 1960-61, was spent in Vienna with Viktor E. Frankl, whose book From Death Camp to Existentialism Leslie helped revise into Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (1962). This led eventually to Leslie’s appointment as curator for the Frankl Library at the GTU. Leslie continued to be active in writing about logotherapy and attended all seven of the world congresses on the subject.

His books include Jesus and Logotherapy (reprinted as Jesus as Counselor: Man’s Search for a Meaningful Faith), Health, Healing, and Holiness, and The Surprising Gospel (with Wilhelm Wuellner). A year after his retirement, in 1983, he was honored by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors with its Annual Distinguished Contributor Award.

Robert Leslie is survived by his wife, Paula; by two children, William Allen Lesllie of Berkeley and Heather Leslie Hammer of Livermore; and by two grandchildren, Joseph Robert Hammer and Leslie Mary Hammer. Heather shares her father’s commitment to ministry, having graduated from PSR with an MDiv. He was present at her commencement exercise.


(updated 3/13/09)