Dr. Leslie Brenner had a sharp wit that allowed her the ability to inject humor into nearly every aspect of her life, including her work as a respected and experienced Atlanta psychologist.
Since she specialized in addictive diseases and emotional disorders such as PTSD, depression and anxiety, Brenner often felt the need for a little comic relief. And with her fun-loving personality, making a serious situation feel more relaxed was easy for her to do, said longtime friend and retired psychologist, Dr. Charlie Dillon.
“She used to lighten up the mood all the time,” he said. “When the doctor told her there was nothing else he could do for her, she sent me an email that read, ‘the doctor says I’m dying and I don’t feel like I am. But, of course, I’ve never died before.’”
Not even her pets were safe from Brenner’s wittiness, experiencing her dry sense of humor in their own way. As a spin-off of the name of Russian classical composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, she named one of her cats “Rimsky-Paws-So-Soft,” and he wasn’t the only cat to fall victim to Brenner’s hilarity, said her goddaughter, Catherine Dillon.
“She had a habit of naming her cats after classical composers like that,” she said with a laugh. “That was just one of her many ways of showing her sense of humor.”
Dr. Leslie Lezia Brenner, of Atlanta, died April 2 from complications of several chronic illnesses at Piedmont Hospital. She was 71.
Her memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at Morningside Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. H.M. Patterson & Son, Oglethorpe Hill Chapel was in charge of cremation arrangements.
Due to her desire to help others, Brenner had always wanted to be a psychologist. Born in San Antonio, Texas, she first graduated from Baylor University before attending the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
After moving to Atlanta, she attended Georgia State University, from which she graduated with a doctorate in counseling psychology in 1978. She spent several years working in the field of public mental health at Clayton Medical Center in Riverdale before opening her own private practice in Buckhead in the early 90s.
While Brenner placed the utmost importance on her practice and her patients, often making herself available by phone and email for after-hour crises, she also understood that there was a time for work and a time for play. And when it was time to play, she preferred it to be at the beach.
Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, Fla., to be exact, where she loved to visit as often as she could, while still making her patients a priority, said her sister, Becky Brenner of San Antonio, Texas.
“She absolutely loved Sarasota, Fla.,” she said. “It was her favorite place, without a doubt. She had an equal passion for enjoying the beach and helping others.”
In addition to her sister Becky, Brenner is survived by another sister, the Rev. Ilene Dunn of Round Rock, Texas.