Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Former student seeks Dr. Marenchin to thank him...

Dr. Leslie Marenchin was THE professor who made the difference.

A lot of people have a story of how that one teacher turned them around and got them on the path to where they now sit (presumably a good place). Dr. Marenchin was an inspiration, an example, and a guide for me.

When I headed off to the Honors college, I was an uptight protected protege who thought she knew more than she did and loved good natured debate. I skipped almost all of my classes and ended up passing almost every single one. The only class I made sure to attend was Dr. Marenchin's discussion because there I truly came alive. The majority of the class we tossled back and forth on whatever issues the current piece presented, each playing the devil's advocate to the other.

Through my first two semesters, time and again he would spark my interest in one subject after another, encouraging me to see more and more perspectives and "loosening" me up.

The only time he was ever cross with me was when he caught me reading a romance novel before class once. For that I was roundly, soundly and most thoroughly scolded. Fluff was not good enough for one of his students. I felt like I had disappointed him terribly. From that day on I never picked up a romance novel.

He made me laugh, think, and respect others more (and less at the same time).

Mostly he taught me how to be a Good "bad influence".

For the last few years I have been trying to reach him to let him know how much I appreciated his influence and interest in me. I finally found him, after he has passed on. He probably would have laughed at the whole situation.

Chris Loy (

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Good times, good memories in Buhl Park

Over 75 friends and family members attended the memorial service hosted by Renee on May 9 in lovely, leafy Buhl park in Sharon/Hermitage/Hickory, Pennsylvania (you're never quite sure what city/township you standing in at any given time in those parts). This is the park where Leslie used to hang out with friends (and smoke pot) and where he told me, during my only visit prior to this one, he kissed his first girlfriend (or something like that); it's also where the Marenchins used to sled as kids. It was a blustery day, so, fortunately, the service was held in a pleasant stone building on the edge of the park, surrounded by trees.

Father Dayton, a friend of the Marenchins, kicked off the proceedings with a prayer or two (Leslie, the atheist, would have squirmed), followed by my long-winded recount of Leslie's life and achievements. Bill Evans, who grew up with Leslie and was practically a brother, and who Renee said essentially lived at the Marenchins, spoke about his long and close relationship with Leslie (that continued with hour- long telephone conversations and more recently a trip together to the Finger Lakes, during which Bill fished and Leslie sat in the boat and lectured). Bill also spoke about the "theatrical" experience of visiting with the Marenchins, and how constant and vociferous (if good natured) argument was the routine. Leslie's high school cohorts--Brian Passell and Bob Hoagland--stepped up next to share some of their personal memories of Leslie and the colorful Marenchin clan (all of them have the honor of having worked with (been enslaved by?) Mike Marenchin in his never ending quest to perfect the Marenchin estate and eventually the world). These boys were also among the regular attendants at Leslie's bedside during that formative six-month stay in a bodycast.

Tom Korman, a friend of Leslie's from their college days at Millersville, shared some of his experiences with Leslie (at school and as waiters at some wanna-be pub, sporting vests and bowlers over their respective afros.) He read from a letter Leslie had written to him from Rice, in his early graduate school days, expressing bemusement over the presence of a Baptist (!) in the philosophy department, and how he would quote scripture to him, tweak it, and argue with him about it. (Leslie, of course, enjoyed nothing more than pointing out hypocritical/contradictory/fallacious thinking.) The letter sounded like Leslie, and it was good to hear his subversive voice in our midst. (Father Dayton stood by stoically.)

An old family friend, Sherry O'Rourke--who Renee said "became our Shelly" after their sister Shelly died--talked fondly about Leslie, and how she had known him for most of his life.

After Father Dayton slipped in a couple more prayers, we recessed to a reception featuring, among other delicacies, stuffed cabbage, lots of stuffed cabbage.

Old family friend Andy Arendas opened his home to the die-hards afterwards. Leslie's friends from high school and college, and family and other friends, huddled around Andy's kitchen and patio swigging Miller High Life and sharing Leslie stories (the ones we couldn't tell in front of the priest), all presided over by that portrait of Leslie taken by Fernando Castro (featured on the blog). You can imagine how Leslie would have loved that party.

I should add that on the way to the service, Renee and I managed to visit the cemetery in Sharon to bury some of Leslie's ashes (those that remained after our sloppy dispersal in Houston) with his sister and parents. It wasn't grand: we stood in the drizzle while a teamster of sorts lowered the box into the muddy hole, and then, as we retreated to the car, buried it with a mini-backhoe. And while it was sad, Renee was comforted by the fact that Leslie is in some way back with his family. (With that said, we've held onto some of his ashes that we hope to distribute at several other choice spots. More on that later.)

Thanks to all who attended, participated in, or contributed in some fashion to a memorable memorial service.

Monday, May 4, 2009

From an ol' farm buddy...

"Thanks For The Pepperoni."

Friday, May 1, 2009

A professor from Leslie's undergraduate days writes...

Dr. Leslie Marenchin was a student of mine when I was chairperson of his undergraduate Department of Philosophy.

He was a favorite because he was always inquiring and then open to answers agreeable and not agreeable to him. He had the heart of a philosopher and the mind of a philosopher. Therefore, I was pleased--personally and professionally--to recommend him to Rice University for graduate study and later to the University of Houston for a position. He was a gem. It is no wonder his students rated him so highly. I would have appreciated his lectures, I am sure, to the depth of my being.

More than most people realize, Dr. Marenchin understood what Socrates contended: Philosophy is practicing dying! In the dialogue Phaedo, Socrates pointed out that, "Everyone except the philosopher regards death as a great evil." But those who really apply themselves, in the right way, to philosophy are preparing themselves for dying and death. Leslie Marenchin knew that "true philosophers make dying their profession."

The world has gained by his life and by his death.
-- John Ellsworth Winter, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy Emeritus
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Thursday, April 9, 2009


A memorial service for Dr. Leslie Michael Marenchin will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at the Buhl Park Activities Building in Sharon/Hermitage, PA. There will be a reception immediately following at the home of a dear friend, where Leslie had attended many parties (see below). Everyone is invited.

The service will be informal, and we encourage anyone who is interested to say a few words about Leslie at the service, stories to celebrate the hilarious, outrageous Leslie we all knew. We just ask that if you intend to do so, please let Renee know by email so we can prepare.

So many of you have graciously asked if you could do anything. If you plan to attend the service or the reception, there may be something (food, beverage, etc) you could bring. Please email Renee so that we can coordinate. Your assistance, in any form, will be greatly appreciated.


MEMORIAL SERVICE: Saturday May 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

BUHL PARK ACTIVITIES BLDG: Forker Entrance/Across from the Gatehouse

RECEPTION Immediately Following at the Home of:

2110 Ridgelawn Drive
Hermitage, PA 16148 (Turn East From Buhl Farm Drive: 1st House on Right)


MEMORIAL SERVICE: Go North on Forker Blvd, see Yahres Road on right, next you’ll see an old stone mansion, then immediate entrance to the park B-4 the Gatehouse (RED STAR). Activities Bldg is across from Gatehouse.

RECEPTION: Just click on the Mapquest map & move it to the left so that you can see the east side of the park. From the Activities Bldg, go south on Forker – turn Left on Highland – then Left on Buhl Farm Drive – 5th Street is Ridgelawn – turn Right - 1st House on Right


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pennsylvania memorial service set May 9

For those who couldn't make it to the Houston service, Renee and family and friends are holding a memorial service for Leslie on Saturday, May 9, 2009, in Sharon, Pennsylvania, with a reception to follow in Hermitage. Details to follow.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One wish fulfilled...

I don't recall the circumstances in which Leslie expressed his desire--should he depart the temporal plane--to have some of his ashes dispensed with in this manner. But Renee assured me that he had specifically requested that she and I take his beloved convertible down one of Houston's (few) scenic roadways--Allen Parkway that runs out of downtown along the bayou, a road he drove almost daily for years--and toss some of his remains to the winds. On February 21, we fulfilled his wish. Speeding out of downtown on an intermittently rainy day, the top down (like he loved it), me driving, and Renee hanging from the window, we let go with a generous cloud of ash (thanks to the draft created by the car, we ended up wearing some of it). The gracelessness of it all would only have made him laugh harder. -- FREEBIRD