YORK COUNTY, S.C. — Dr. Robert Lesslie was well-known in Rock Hill as a doctor, author, loving father and grandfather, and an active member of his church.
According to his biography, Dr. Lesslie and his wife, Barbara, had four adult children and eight grandchildren.
The gunman who killed Lesslie, his wife, two of their grandchildren and two other men was former NFL player Phillip Adams, who died by suicide early Thursday, according to authorities.
Dr. Lesslie wrote at least a dozen books, including “Angels in the ER,” a collection of stories from his 25 years as an emergency room doctor.
Some excerpts from that book include:
- “I know without a doubt that life is fragile. I have come to understand that humility may be the greatest virtue. And I am convinced we need to take the time to say the things we deeply feel to the people we deeply care about.”
- “It all happens here. This is an amazing place to observe and study the human condition. We see and experience every feeling and emotion, and do so in an intense and highly charged environment.”
- “As caregivers, whether nurse or doctor, orderly or secretary, we quickly learn the limits of our willingness and ability to empathize, to sacrifice, and to step outside of ourselves.”
- “Ultimately, the ER is a place where the faith of each one of us will be tested. Here we can learn who we are and on what ground we stand. And sometimes, it is a place where our faith can be found.”
His latest book, “Angels in the ER: Volume 2,” was set to be published in August.
Dr. Lesslie was also the founder and medical director of Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care. It serves patients in York, Lancaster and Chester counties.
Dr. Lesslie’s biography page said he “received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and continued his training in Greenville, South Carolina and in Charlotte, North Carolina where he was chief resident at Charlotte Memorial Hospital.”
‘He was just an exceptional person’
When you’re a doctor in a town for forty years, you see generations of families and loved ones said Lesslie didn’t just treat patients, he was family to them.
The loss of Lesslie and his wife Barbara, will change Rock Hill.
Lesslie’s clinic was closed today with flowers at the door and a sign saying the Riverview family has been struck by tragedy.
Connie McIntyre, not only worked for Lesslie at Piedmont Medical Center, but knew his family personally since she was a child.
“I truly have been in prayer for everybody that’s involved with this, especially his precious family,” she said. “I grew up with his children. My brother and sister graduated with them and went to school with them, and I’ve known them since I was 12 years old.”
Kristin Bracey knew him too. She worked for Lesslie at Riverview and was even a patient.
“I was sick, one time, nobody really knew what was wrong with me. I had a really high fever, he sat, he kept me at Riverview overnight, which is not something that facility normally does, and he sat with me the whole night, until my fever broke,” she said.
Lesslie was an author, speaker, innovator and teacher to so many choosing health care as their life’s passion.
“He was such a mentor. I can just think back to all the many things that he taught me. Pulling me aside to show me things, working side by side with the absolute best that there is,” McIntyre said.
Lesslie was also a friend to children. He and his wife both volunteered at a summer camp for children with special needs called Camp Joy.
“The thing that bothers me is how upset he would be to know that his grandchildren were killed, because of how much he loved all these babies. Everybody’s babies,” Bracey said.
An X-ray tech who worked with Lesslie said he and his wife loved the Lord and loved people.
Channel 9 also spoke with Lesslie’s longtime friend Manning Kimmel.
“He was an old-fashioned kind of doctor who was brilliant,” Kimmel said. “He wanted to spend a lot of time with his patients, he wanted to get to know them. He would spend the kind of time that you don’t see a whole lot of today because of the medical world we’re all living in. He was just an exceptional person, and to see this happen to him and his family is just tragic beyond words.”
On Thursday, Winthrop University President George Hynd tweeted that Lesslie, for more than 25 years, was the school’s supervising physician/medical director.
Hynd said the Winthrop community was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the tragedy and asked the community to lift the families of all the victims.
‘He believed in giving all that you have to help your fellow human being’
Gwen Hunter was a close friend of Lesslie. They met more than 20 years ago when she was an emergency room nurse. The friends who shared a love of writing both became authors.
“He believed in giving all that you have to help your fellow human being in every way, he never looked down on a single person,” Hunter said.
She told Channel 9 that a lot of friends are asking why this happened, but to her it doesn’t make a difference.
“There is no why that makes sense, for a family to die, it doesn’t matter what the problem is they should not have died by violence,” she said.