I had the great privilege to know Leslie for nearly three yeras, having woken up many an early morning with her to be her producer on THE CLEAN AND SOBER HOUR. She, Steve S. and I had many a laugh and always felt great about helping those in crisis at the oft lonely hour of 6am on a sunday. but we were there, sugared and coffeed, smiling and enjoying life for what it is and was, a strange, sometimes lonley ride. But never without wisdom, which Leslie was rarely without. She is in my thoughts and in my heavy heart tonight. GOD SPEED LESLIE on your amazing new journey!
Posted on Thu, May. 31, 2007
LESLIE ARMSTRONG, 50 Radio show aided addicts
BY DAVID SMILEY dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com
Leslie Armstrong, a Miami-based mental health counselor who turned addiction into inspiration over radio airwaves, died May 22 in New Orleans. She was 50.
The cause has yet to be determined, her mother, Vera Armstrong, said.
An employee of the Loews New Orleans Hotel found Armstrong dead in her hotel bed, her mother said. Armstrong was in New Orleans to lecture at Tulane University.
Armstrong offered advice to listeners on the local radio program Clean and Sober Hour, which ran at 6 a.m. on WZTA-FM (94.9) from 1990 until 2002, and most recently on Sirius Radio's Meet the Shrink, a program affiliated with the Howard Stern Show.
Every Sunday morning on Clean and Sober, Armstrong would field calls, often from people who had been out all night partying. She also interviewed guests, including Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees.
''She helped thousands of people,'' said Joe's Stone Crab co-owner Steve Sawitz, a friend.
Born Feb. 1, 1957, Armstrong became a successful stock and commodities broker by the age of 30.
But along with her success, she had developed an addiction. Despite promising herself that she would never drink after she was thrown through a car windshield as a young girl during an accident involving a drunken driver, Armstrong became a heavy drinker and developed a painkiller habit.
She checked into South Miami Hospital's addiction treatment program in the late 1980s and afterward began counseling other addicts. Eventually, she became program director of Glenbeigh Hospital's chemical dependency unit.
''She was proud of her recovery and extremely secure in her sobriety,'' said friend Tara Solomon.
Armstrong earned a master's degree from Barry University and would have earned a doctorate had she completed her dissertation, Solomon said.
When she wasn't listening to others' problems, Armstrong often was relaxing at her favorite hangout, Joe's Stone Crab.
''I think it was cozy for her,'' Sawitz said. ``She felt comfortable here.''
In fact, Armstrong liked Joe's so much she married her second husband, Olivier Leclary, in the restaurant's courtyard in 1998. The couple divorced in 2003.
Friend Shelley Kravitz, a Miami-Dade County Court judge, married the couple.
''We'd always been close, but that's the highest honor, to have your close friend want you to perform the wedding ceremony,'' Kravitz said.
Sawitz said some of his best memories of Armstrong came in the restaurant. That's where the friends met once a week to enjoy dinner and also where she met President George W. Bush in 2006.
''Without question, I'm a better person for having known her,'' Sawitz said.
Along with her mother, Armstrong is survived by brother Lance.
Services will be at noon Friday at Fred Hunter's Memorial Service, 6301 Taft St., Hollywood.