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Community shocked at EC alum’s death

The Due West community is in shock at the tragic death of an Erskine alumnus and members of his family.

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead in their home in Rock Hill along with their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, according to published reports.

A man who had been working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, of Gastonia, was found shot to death outside.

Authorities say they were shot by former NFL player Philip Adams before he killed himself.

Authorities had not at press time determined a motive.

Lesslie was, according to published reports, a Dixie High School and Erskine College alumnus, and his father, T.E. Lesslie, was a chemistry professor at Erskine during the 1960s and 1970s, and Barbara Smith Lesslie also graduated from Erskine.

According to published reports which quoted Lesslie’s website, the doctor worked for decades as an emergency room doctor, board certified in both emergency medicine and occupational medicine and serving as emergency department medical director for nearly 15 years at Rock Hill General Hospital.

He and his wife had four children and nine grandchildren, and were actively involved with their church, as well as with Camp Joy, which works with children with disabilities, and where Lesslie worked as a camp physician for a week each summer.

Adams played in 78 NFL games over five seasons for six teams, and finished his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.

“I did not know Robert or Barbara personally,” said Due West Mayor Jeannie Knight. “They were Erskine students around the time (Jeannie’s husband) Jim and I returned to live in Due West in 1979. Jim was one of Robert’s chemistry professors at Erskine. And Robert earned high marks as a Chemistry student. Others in the Due West Community taught Robert in his public school years in Due West as well as teaching his sisters.

“Robert’s father, Ellis Lesslie, was also a teacher in the Science Department at Erskine during our early years back after Jim completed graduate school at UNC.

“This is such a terrible situation for that family. To lose Robert and Barbara and the two young grandchildren is certainly a tragedy, but to have it be in such a violent way is inexplicable. I would say that the folks here in Due West and many of the Erskine alums of that time are in shock and grief stricken for the Lesslie family in Rock Hill.

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