IRON MOUNTAIN - Gilberte R. Leslie, 80, of Niagara, Wis., passed away Monday, March 31, 2014, at Maryhill Manor in Niagara.
She was born April 25, 1933, in Nice, France, daughter of the late Francois and Therese Marie (Genovesi) Gelsi. Gilberte married Wilbur L. Leslie on Dec. 30, 1952, in Nice and he preceded her in death on June 22, 2011.
Jill's parents moved from Capoliveri, Italy to Nice and raised two beautiful daughters, Gilberte and Juliete, during the Second World War. Jill spoke of the hard times the family went through and when she had to live with another family in the countryside during the occupation of France. This was difficult on her, but she was told it would only be temporary.
Jill returned to be with her family and soon learned to be a talented dress designer. At the age of 18, she met the love of her life Wilbur while he was stationed in France with the Navy. A year later they married in Nice and she spent the next 20 years with Wilbur as he completed his career with the Navy. The two spent the rest of their lives together in Niagara.
Jill was an excellent cook and a renowned baker. She fed many friends and family in her kitchen over the years. Her bread, pie and cake making skills were legendary. Jill's many skills included quilting, knitting, embroidery, sewing, reading, gardening and canning. She was always knitting socks and giving them as gifts to her family and friends.
Jill always made friends with anyone she met. She enjoyed the time she spent with her friends at Stoney Brook Apartments. Jill loved fishing with Wilbur and foraging for wild berries to make jams and jellies. She also had her very own raspberry garden where she produced jams and jellies. Along with gardening she raised chickens and beef for her family. She enjoyed playing cards, dominoes and going to the casino with her relatives and friends.
Jill loved animals of all kinds, always taking in a stray or injured animal and nursing it until it was well or could be returned to its rightful owner. She loved her poodles, Omar, Evet and Pierre. She enjoyed feeding and watching the birds all year long from her kitchen window. Jill deeply loved and cared for Wilbur and they were inseparable throughout their almost 59 years together.
Jill is survived by her children, Gene (Donna) Leslie of Niagara, Eric (Tina) Leslie of Niagara and Sharon (Marland) Carpenter of Omro, Wis.; seven grandchildren, Jason, Brian (Joanna), Matt (Elizabeth), David, Ben (Lisa), Christopher (Jackie), Desiree (John); and nine great-grandchildren, Ellianna, Gavin, Aengus, Abian, Akir, Lily, Natalie, Alec and Raquel. She is also survived by her nephew, Christian; and nieces, Michele and Vivian, who on more than one occasion traveled from France to visit their aunt.
In addition to her parents and her husband, she was preceded in death by her only sister, Juliete.
Jill will be sadly missed by her family and friends.
Visitation will be on Saturday, April 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jacobs Funeral Home in Iron Mountain.
The funeral service will follow Saturday at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Rev. Fr. Matt Settle will officiate.
You may light a candle in remembrance of Gilberte or leave a condolence for her family online at www.jacobsfuneralhomes.com.
The family has chosen the Jacobs Funeral Home of Iron Mountain to honor Gilberte's legacy of life.