EASLEY — Ask anyone who knew and loved him, the late Joe Lesley was never likely to be forgotten.
His friendships and influence helped to shape the community around him and his iconic ice cream shop has graced Main Street for over 40 years.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, the City of Easley furthered Lesley’s legacy by renaming Peoples Drive in his honor at the J.B. Red Owens Sports Complex, changing it to the fitting “Joe Lesley Way.”
“There wasn’t a dry eye in that room,” said City Councilman Terry Moore. “His family was there, his wife, kids, grand-kids. And then when it came to actually read the proclamation, the Mayor had to have Lisa (Chapman) do it because he was getting too choked up — and then she broke down too. I don’t how they got it read, I knew I couldn’t have done it. Everybody in there was crying.”
Peoples Drive was selected because of its proximity to the ball fields, to recognize Lesley’s many years of support in Little League, said Moore.
“He was always so involved with youth,” said Moore. “Whenever you went into Joe’s there was a bunch of kids, he hired kids to keep them out of trouble or he got them playing baseball.”
Moore said the resolution to rename the road was originally on the city’s agenda back in August but was delayed after Lesley’s passing.
“It is a memorial now but it was meant to be presented as a ‘thank you’ while Joe was still with us,” he said. “I guess in a way it still is. I think his family told him about it before he passed though, I hope he liked it.”
Lesley passed away Aug. 12 after a fight with cancer.
“This wasn’t about politics or anything, this was about friendship — and Joe was everybody’s friend,” said Moore. “He left some big shoes to fill and I don’t think there’ll ever be someone quite like him.
“You know, it hurts now that he’s gone but the memories of him are all happy ones, good ones. Can you imagine living that kind of life? Where all people can say is how much they miss you and how much you were loved? We should all be so lucky.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.