'Life is Fragile': Dr. Robert Lesslie, Killed in SC Shooting, Wrote About Faith on Blog

Dr. Robert Lesslie, a 70-year-old South Carolina physician and author who was killed in mass shooting on Wednesday often used his work to discuss the fragility of life and his devotion to Christianity.

"Life is uncertain. Things happen. Lives are unexpectedly changed or ended. And it happens suddenly," he wrote in an online blog entry, according to the Associated Press.

"I know without a doubt that life is fragile," Lesslie also wrote in one of his books, a collection of work that he termed "inspiring true stories" from his medical career. "I have come to understand that humility may be the greatest virtue. And I am convinced we need to take the time to say the things we deeply feel to the people we deeply care about."

According to authorities, Lesslie, his wife Barbara, their two grandchildren and a repair man working on their home were killed during the attack on Wednesday. Police said the shooter, former NFL player Phillip Adams, took his own life Thursday morning. Police have not yet identified a motive.

For more reporting from Newsweek's Matthew Impelli, see below:

Lesslie was the medical director and founder of Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care in Rock Hill. According to the medical center's website, Lesslie has been practicing in Rock Hill since 1981, after receiving his medical degree from Medical University of South Carolina. He later earned his master's degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1999.

He previously worked as the chief resident at Charlotte Memorial Hospital in North Carolina.

"Dr. Lesslie is board-certified in emergency medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine," his bio reads. "He is a certified Medical Review Officer for drug and alcohol testing and a Certified Medical Examiner for the Department of Transportation. For more than a decade, he has been writing newspaper and magazine columns and human-interest stories."

Outside of his work in the medical field, Lesslie lived in Rock Hill with his wife, as well as a golden retriever named Moses and several farm animals such as mini horses, donkeys and chickens.

"They have four grown children and eight growing grandchildren. He enjoys golfing, traveling and bagpiping. He is a regular columnist for YC magazine, an active member of his church, as well as an accomplished author. His series of books offer hope and wisdom for his readers' overall health and well being based on his years of experience in the field of medicine," his bio reads.

Robert Lesslie
Flowers and stuffed animals sit on the sidewalk outside Riverview Family Medicine and Urgent Care after the fatal shooting of Dr. Robert Lesslie and four others the previous day on April 8, 2021, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Lesslie's lessons on faith were passed down to his children, as was evident in a statement from his family that law enforcement shared at a news conference on Thursday, a day after the attack. Even in their grief, the family said their "hearts are bent toward forgiveness and peace," York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told reporters.

Barbara Lesslie had been heavily involved in fine arts, including theater in Rock Hill, said Gary Simrill, the Republican leader of the South Carolina House and a longtime Rock Hill resident. Having practiced medicine in Rock Hill for more than three decades, her husband had indeed treated many of its citizens. Simrill said that after years in emergency medicine, Robert Lesslie founded two urgent care centers that were the opposite of what many might expect from a quick-service medical practice.

"People developed a great relationship with him because he wasn't just the doctor that saw you," Simrill said. "He was the doctor that got to know you."

In a 2014 interview, Lesslie spoke of how he came to write one of his books, "Angels in the ER," saying he saw value in the stories he had collected through his decades in medicine, focusing on "people who had impacted me through their faith, and the way they had dealt with things that life had sent their way."

"When I talk about angels, I do believe that God ministers to us in a lot of different ways," Lesslie said. "I don't write about wings and halos and that kind of thing, but I do believe that God does speak to us through his spirit - and through other people."

As he wrote on his blog recently, Lesslie felt comfortable in his faith, imagining heaven as a place filled with joy, and where he would be reunited with family and his cherished dog, Dox.

"We have no idea what Heaven will look like, only that it will be perfect," Lesslie wrote. "And because of that I know that one day, when I've experienced the presence and joy of that surrounding host of saints, I will find myself walking with Barbara in a field of lush, green grass. ... The words of Jesus will echo through that glade — 'Behold, I make all things new.'"