Leslie Stuart King passed away peacefully on Thursday, August 29, 2019 in Houston, TX, after a two-year battle with cancer. Leslie was born September 21, 1957, in Houston Texas, to Hart Ayers King and Gene Red King (Genie), who predeceased her. In Leslie’s early years, her family moved around Texas (Liberty, Bellaire, San Antonio and Midland) and Glasgow, Montana, before settling in Tanglewood in Houston, when she was in fourth grade. Throughout her entire life, she would spend summers at the family cabin, Wee Hoose, in Gallinas Canyon, Montezuma, NM. This is where she would relax and recharge. For her last two years of high school, she attended and graduated from the Singapore American School in 1975, where she made many life-long friends.
Leslie loved to tell a story about when she lived in Singapore in the mid-70s. Her father’s company set the family up in a house on the water with a full staff. She was amazed at the life the company had to offer and mentioned to her father on how much she loved it. She never forgot his reaction. He chuckled to himself, set down his drink, and said, “And you can have a life like this. All you have to do is work for it.” And she did.
Upon high school graduation, she attended and graduated from Sam Houston State University, with a degree in Marketing. She was never one to work a 9 to 5 job. She worked at Imco Services as one of the first female mud engineers (“Mud Men”). Later she joined Marathon Pipe Protectors in Sales, Marriott Corporation in restaurant management, then became a realtor. She finally found her niche in residential remodeling after seeing other people flip houses. She realized she could do the same and started her own business working for homeowners. She found something she loved that could help provide for her family.
When she founded her remodeling company, Greymark Construction, twenty-five years ago, she was making a daring move as she was a single mom of two in a male dominated business. In addition, she had the additional handicap of being hard of hearing, but that didn’t stop her from being successful. She educated herself and became immersed in various organizations – such as Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA), HomeAid and Remodelers Advantage. In 2001, Leslie was the first female president of GHBA Remodeler’s Council and in 2014 she was the first woman builder to become President of the GHBA. She served on the board of HomeAid and gave back to her community through their many projects. Leslie and her company were the recipients of many awards, both nationally and in the Houston market.
Leslie had two daughters, Kelly Kirk and Casey Bemis, with her ex-husband, Steve Bemis. Education was extremely important for her and she gave her daughters the best education she could possibly give. She was fortunate to work with her oldest daughter, Kelly, who has been transitioning to take over the business and continue her legacy. In 2017, she built her residence/office space that was a collaborative effort with her youngest daughter, Casey. Her two daughters, a CPA and an architectural designer, inherited both sides of her personality.
She was a go-getter, firebrand woman who excelled at whatever she put her mind to. Leslie enjoyed traveling all over the world, bringing a good book wherever she went. Her father instilled in her the love of reading. Hart would cut out newspaper articles and have his daughters read and discuss them with him. When Leslie’s daughters were in college, she continued the tradition and sent them newspaper articles even after most news was online.
Leslie’s mother Genie was extremely competitive, a trait that Leslie inherited. She hated to lose at anything, especially card games. When she finally beat Genie at card games, she knew she was a good card player! She truly enjoyed her monthly poker night, playing games (winning of course) and the companionship of her many friends. Her friends were extremely important to her. She cherished going to Friday Night Dinner with “the tribe.” She attended “Church of the Bicycle” on Sundays, where she and friends would frequently stop to get breakfast tacos to refuel. She also rode the MS150 several times, twice with her youngest daughter. Leslie left her daughter in the dust both times and would call her from lunch to check in and see how she was doing.
Leslie is survived by her two cherished daughters, Kelly Stuart Kirk and husband Taylor Kirk, of Houston, and Casey Hart Bemis and partner Cesar Laca, of Dallas. She was awaiting the birth of her first grandson, Everett Stuart Wilder Kirk. Leslie is also survived by her sisters Allison Ayers King of Irving, TX and Susan King Ridley and her husband Danny Ridley, of Sugar Land, and their children Holly Farris and her family in Richmond, TX and Daniel Ridley of Seattle, WA. Leslie is also survived by Larissa Poindexter, Sara Farris, Iris Ochoa, Susan Taylor and many other cherished friends. Leslie leaves behind her beloved four-legged companions/employees of the month (for 15 consecutive months), Gibbs and Diva, as well as numerous business partners and her many employees who helped make her business a success.
A Celebration of Life will be held on September 28, 2019 at 2 pm at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave., Houston, TX 77002. She will be interred in Oak Rest Cemetery in Gay Hill, TX. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CAPS (Citizens for Animal Protection, 17555 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX 77094) or to NPR at KUHT (Houstonpublicmedia.org at the University of Houston).
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