James A. Leslie, an accountant who owned and raced standardbred horses at tracks throughout the region for most of his adult life, died Saturday in his Toledo home. He was 59.
Mr. Leslie died in his sleep, and no investigation of the cause is planned, said his wife, Wanda.
The son of a couple who followed racing so closely they vacationed at racetracks, Mr. Leslie became a horse owner as part of a syndicate that formed among men at the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand while he was an intern there during his master of business administration studies at the University of Michigan.
Mr. Leslie soon bought out the other partners and, over the years, had as many as 12 horses in his stable, Mrs. Leslie said.
Pacers or trotters all, he raced them at harness tracks, including Toledo's Raceway Park, Northville Downs, and Hazel Park in the Detroit area, and tracks near Cleveland and Columbus.
On one particular night, Mr. Leslie had one horse entered in the first race in Columbus and another in the 10th race in Washington, Pa., and the couple drove from one track to the other to watch both races. One of his pacers, Perfecto Chase, held for more than 10 years the mile record at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., Mrs. Leslie said.
Except for retaining part ownership of one horse with his sister, Mr. Leslie got out of racing during the late 1990s, Mrs. Leslie said.
In his day job, Mr. Leslie specialized in construction-company audits. He worked for Coopers & Lybrand and its successor, Price Waterhouse Coopers, in Detroit until 1983, then joined The Douglas Company in Springfield Township for six years before going into private accounting practice during the 1990s.
For the last five years, he worked for Broadway Tax in Toledo, Mrs. Leslie said.
Surviving are his wife, the former Wanda Townsend, to whom he was married 31 1/2 years; son, Eric, and sister, Frances Ann Emmett.
The family will receive friends at the Coyle Funeral Home from 2 to 8 p.m. today. Services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary.
The family suggests tributes to First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo or the Kidney Foundation.
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