The much loved former Mayor of Alice Springs has passed away.
Leslie Irene Oldfield (Huggins), former Mayor of Alice Springs from 1983 to 1992, died yesterday at Apollo Bay aged 71 years.
As a young woman Leslie traveled overseas.
She was the personal assistant to the Territory's legendary aviation pioneer Eddie Connellan for many years, and a couple of years ago Leslie returned to give the keynote speech at an event at the aviation museum.
After being Mayor she married her sweetheart from youth, Alan Huggins, in the gardens of the Old Timers Museum and they recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary.
They went to live on Alan's farm in Apollo Bay where they kept sheep and cattle.
Leslie settled easily into the life of the farm and cared for many lambs and baby alpacas.
She established a beautiful and productive garden around the homestead. She learned to spin and spun her own wool.
She became very much part of the community.
After being diagnosed with an aggressive form a cancer which was throughout her body, she spent the last few months of her life in a palliative care unit at Apollo Bay where until quite recently she continued her public life and charitable activities, in her inimitable style, from her bed.
Leslie leaves behind friends across the country, many of whom recently travelled to Apollo Bay to say their goodbyes.
(Contributed by Helen Fisher. Google the many references to this immensely popular public figure in our story archive. Feel free to click FULL STORY and leave your tribute in the comment box.)
She is a cancer patient in the Otway Health clinic at Apollo Bay, Victoria, but her heart and mind often drift to Alice Springs, whose Mayor she was for nine years, elected to follow George Smith in 1983 and re-elected three times.
In all Leslie Oldfield served on the town council for 15 years.
Her surname became Huggins when she married Alan in 1993, at the Old Timers.
Although she left town almost 20 years ago she keeps in touch, and is a little bemused and worried about the current poisonous atmosphere in local government.
There were many disagreements at council meetings in her time, but "it used to be a friendly thing.
"We'd bicker and then shake hands."
Her friend and fundraiser for the centre, Katrina Kiely, says Mrs Huggins has an aggressive strain of inoperable cancer.
But tomorrow she will have her hair shaved to raise funds for a children's charity, the Leukaemia Foundation.
"I don't have much hair left but they can take the rest," she says.
Her strong spirit has not deserted her. And neither has her sense of humor. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: Mayor Oldfield and her town; with husband Alan.
UPDATE:Leslie Huggins (formerly Oldfield) and husband Alan, inspired by her courage, have gone under the razor for the World's Greatest Shave Day. In their small community $3000 was raised for the Leukaemia Foundation. Mrs Huggins received a surprise call on the day from Kamahl, wishing her all the best.
Mayor of Alice Springs Damien Ryan has only served one term and has time on his side for a return to office in the March elections. Only once in the 41 year history of the Alice Springs Town Council has an incumbent mayor been defeated. That was in 1992 when the former Assistant Commissioner of the NT Police Andy McNeill unseated Mayor Leslie Oldfield, who had campaigned on her impressive track record but offered no new policies. This unique event is analysed for the lessons it may have for the current mayoral contest by long-time observer of Alice Springs and NT politics, ALEX NELSON.