Austin's cross-dressing icon, Leslie Cochran, dies

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News and Chief Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST and KVUE.com

khou.com

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 12:25 PM

AUSTIN, Texas -- A beloved Austin icon is gone. The man many simply called "Leslie" passed away at 1 a.m. Thursday.

Residents say Leslie Cochran was the epitome of "Keeping Austin Weird." With his passing many feel the city lost a piece of its soul.

Last month Leslie fell and hit his head. Since then he's been in the hospital and in hospice care, slipping in and out of consciousness. An outpouring of community support flooded his room. Those who stayed at his bedside tell us he woke up to see the many cards and messages people sent him in his final days.
 
“He understands how much people love him and he was able to go in peace that way,” said close friend Debbie Russell.
 
Leslie dressed in women's clothes and wore makeup and high heels. Many feel he "looked the part" of Austin. That's what so many grew to love about him. On social networking sites many have shared their memories of Leslie. They say yes, Leslie was weird, but Leslie was kind.
 
“He represents just so much that is good about Austin. We're going to miss it and that little part of Austin is now gone forever,” said Austin City Council member Mike Martinez.  
 
Leslie first visited Austin in the late 1980s. He came back several times and decided to make Austin home in January of 1996.
 
The mayor of Austin was expected to declare Thursday as 'Leslie Day' in Austin. The city council is now reconsidering moving that day to another time in honor of his passing.
 
The City of Austin is now preparing to honor Leslie's memory. Those who knew Leslie best say they're organizing a march from City Hall down 6th Street Thursday evening starting at 7 p.m.
 
A public memorial service will be held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Auditorium Shores.
 
A private ceremony will be held for Leslie's family and close friends.

If you have a photo with Leslie, send it to spotnews@kvue.com.

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