[Buddha-l] Prof. Leslie Kawamura
vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 12 20:50:14 MST 2011
The following is X-posted from H-Buddhism. Sarah got her PhD under Leslie
and also assisted him for many years as a kind of personal assistant, and
thus knew him well.
Those who knew him might enjoy the tribute his department at the University
of Calgary has put on their homepage, especially the pictures, each
displaying his nearly constant smile.
From: Sarah Haynes <sfhaynes77 at yahoo.ca>
Subject: Obituary of Leslie Kawamura
It is with profound sadness that I post the following:
Leslie S. Kawamura, foremost Buddhist Studies scholar in Canada, died at
Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta on March 10. Leslie had been
experiencing serious lung problems that lead to his recent hospital stay
where he ultimately suffered a heart attack several days before his death.
Much has been written elsewhere about Leslie's early years as a boy growing
up in Southern Alberta and the experiences his family faced when the
Canadian government interned Japanese-Canadians during World War II. Leslie
was born in Raymond, Alberta in 1935 to a father and mother who had been
sent to Canada to minister to Japanese immigrants working in Western Canada.
The Kawamura family eventually settled in Raymond after WWII where his
father, Reverend Yutetsu Kawamura ministered to the growing Jodo Shinshu
community and established the Raymond Buddhist Church. Eventually, Leslie
followed in his father's footsteps, becoming an ordained Jodo Shinshu
priest, but also in the fostering of the Jodo Shinshu community in Alberta
and across the entire country. One of Leslie's last roles in the Jodo
Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada was as the Director of the Living Dharma
Centre, whose aim is to revitalize Jodo Shinshu communities across Canada.
Leslie devoted himself to the academic study of Buddhism for over forty
years. He began his studies in California in the 1950s, but eventually made
his way to Japan where he earned two M.A.s, one from Ryukoku University
(1961) and the second from Kyoto University (1964). Upon his return to
Canada, Leslie studied under leading Buddhologist Herbert V. Guenther at the
University of Saskatchewan.
Upon completion of his Ph.D. Leslie moved back to Alberta where in 1976 he
became Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at the
University of Calgary. Leslie remained in at the University of Calgary for
the entirety of his career. At the time of his death he held the position
of Yehan Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies, along with many other university
affiliated titles and distinctions.
Leslie's academic work speaks for itself, both in its breadth and quality.
His passion was the study of Yogacara, but his child-like curiosity and
passion carried over into many areas of Buddhist Studies. This passion is
what inspired his students on a daily basis.
To his many students, Leslie was much more than an academic advisor; he was
a father figure. Leslie worked tirelessly to foster the academic careers of
his students, but more importantly he was a model for how compassion can
manifest in individuals. Leslie went above and beyond to insure that his
students had access to what they needed in order to remain competitive in
the field. He was also known to help students move, take them to the
hospital, and to provide support in ways an academic advisor is not
Leslie Kawamura is survived by his wife Toyo, their daughter Nao and
son-in-law Peter Khu, grandsons Albert and Carlin, and two sisters and one
brother. His academic legacy lives on in the innumerable students whose
lives he touched.
Funeral services for Leslie will be on Monday March 14 at 2:00PM at
McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes,
Park Memorial Chapel,
5008 Elbow Drive S.W., Calgary.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to "The Leslie Kawamura Graduate
Scholarship in Buddhist Studies" details of which can be found on the web at
You may forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.
H-Buddhism (Buddhist Scholars Information Network)
Web Site: <http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism/>
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