Leslie Whitaker, 53, Author, journalist and teacher

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Leslie Anne Whitaker, 53, died on March 4, 2011 at Zilber Hospice in Wauwatosa, Wis. An accomplished author, journalist and teacher, she lived in Oak Park for 15 years before moving to Milwaukee in 2006. She was active in Oak Park school and community affairs and played a pivotal role in the resolution of the dispute over the WPA murals at Hatch Elementary School in the early 1990s.

The family belonged to Oak Park Temple, and she still has many close friends in the Oak Park community. Upon the family's move to Milwaukee, she became a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she developed innovative courses in creativity, blogging and book writing.

Leslie Whitaker is survived by her husband of almost 27 years, Michael Fendrich; her children, Benjamin Hanan and Alexandra Mae Fendrich; her mother, Bernadine (Beerheide) Whitaker; and her sister, Sarah Whitaker. She was preceded in death by her father, Rev. W. Orin Whitaker.

A memorial service was held at Northshore Funeral Services in Shorewood, Wis., on March 13.

Honoring Leslie's work as an accomplished writer and dedicated teacher who nurtured creativity and embodied an abiding creative spirit, an award has been established in her name at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to do so, may donate to the Leslie Whitaker Memorial Award, c/o Kathy J. Doering-Kilkenny, P.O. Box 413, Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201. Please make checks payable to "The UWM Foundation" and write "Leslie Whitaker Award" in the memo line.

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