The Gift of Perseverance
May 22, 2014
Editor’s Note: Oklahoma Baptist University alum Brad Leslie, a 1961 graduate, is a 2014 recipient of the OBU Alumni Association’s Profile In Excellence Award. The award is given to a former student who has “demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University.” Each year, Profile In Excellence recipients are featured in OBU Magazine.
Brad Leslie served two years in the United States Marine Corps following high school. Entering OBU in 1958 with a small lack of self-confidence due to prior academic struggles, Leslie found himself unsure of what major to pursue.
Naysayers suggested college was a questionable choice for him. But when Leslie told OBU professor Opal Craig during a speech class that he did not have a major, she replied, “You do now!” Leslie proceeded to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in speech in 1961 and claims Craig was the “shining star” of his experience at OBU.
“[Craig’s] office was always open to me and she provided me counsel on many occasions,” Leslie said. “For me, she was the consummate teacher, counselor and friend.”
A rigorous academic school is not without its challenges, but Leslie experienced encouragement throughout his time on Bison Hill.
“OBU gave me the gift of perseverance,” Leslie said. “The message was always there, ‘don’t quit, there is a way you can make this work.’”
He graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1965 with a Master of Religious Education degree, which included two units of clinical pastoral education. During his time in seminary, Leslie began serving as recreation director at First Baptist Church, Irving, Texas, the church in which he was ordained.
He continued his ministry in churches throughout Oklahoma, Louisiana and Ohio; serving in roles of youth director, education director and assistant to the pastor. Leslie continued to persevere on the path God had in store for him, and decided to pursue a new career when an opportunity arose.
Leslie accepted a position in 1969 as Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. During his 27 years of service, Leslie held protective assignments with seven presidents of the United States, from Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton – some full-time assignments, and others temporary. He also led and coordinated advance security preparations and surveys – both foreign and domestic – for U.S. Secret Service protectees.
He has served as a full-time special agent for a former First Lady, shift supervisor to foreign heads of state, and intelligence coordinator for presidential visits. He evaluated mentally and emotionally disturbed people with a propensity for violence toward public figures and interviewed people who made threats to determine if their threats were credible.
Leslie retired in 1995 but continued to use his gifts working background investigations for the FBI, as well as volunteering as a chaplain for his local hospital and serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
“It was meaningful to be involved with the human condition in the courts and to glimpse a moment in time, a presidential candidate, a foreign dignitary, an inauguration, and a handshake with a president,” said Leslie.
He is also a notable spokesperson to police schools, banks, college classes and professional service groups. When speaking to banks, he details how to identify counterfeit money and forgeries. Other speaking engagement topics include Secret Service responsibilities and the investigative process.
Leslie, now 76 years old, lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., with his high school sweetheart and wife, Peggy. He enjoys playing tennis, visiting friends, and spending time with his four children and three grandchildren.