For Leslie Harvey Kirkegaard, life was a grand adventure.
Leslie's adventure began on March 12, 1942 in Denver, Colorado. He grew up with close family ties, a strong work ethic, a love of nature, and a thirst for knowledge. While attending Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 1960's, he met the woman who became his wife and partner in adventure, Carol Fay Axt. After graduating from the Univ. of Colorado in 1964, he and Carol moved to Madison, Wisconsin. As he worked toward his Ph.D in Biochemistry at the Univ. of Wisconsin, he and Carol had 4 babies in 5 years, built a barn, tended to bee hives, and marveled at tornados or northern snow drifts. In 1972 the young family moved to Illinois, where Les did post-doctorate work at the Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, before starting his first "real job" at Litton Bionetics in Maryland. He was an inventor, original thinker, and entrepreneur, and was gratified to channel his talents and energy into the founding of Kirkegaard and Perry Laboratories in 1979, and Bioassay Works in 2005. His pride and joy was Research and Development, or as he described it, "alchemy". As in all aspects of life he was able to access the adventure, turning base materials into gold.
Leslie raised his children to find the good in all people and the beauty in all things. He went camping and rafting, built model airplanes and electronic circuit boards, helped with scout merit badges, and attended youth orchestra concerts. He had the greenest of thumbs, reminding his children that they were "living like Kings" on land that nurtured a thriving orchard and garden. As a member of the Maryland Orchid Society, he won numerous awards for his uniquely gorgeous flowers. He loved to go on long walks in the woods with his dogs, working through the world's problems and mysteries in his mind. He took rambling road trips with children and grandchildren, appreciating the geology, the farmland, and historic landmarks along the way.
Leslie's adventure came to a peaceful close in his home on February 4th after a valiant fight with Amyloidosis. His spirit of adventure lives on in his surviving family members: His loving wife of 51 years, Carol; His children, Sorena (husband Mason Rickard), Lesley (wife Megan Williams), Shellie (husband Richard Sasscer Jr.), and Lewis (wife Lisa Moot); And his grandchildren: Matthew Sasscer, Lauren Sasscer, Axel Rickard, Ryder Rickard, and Lira Kirkegaard.