Eugene Pioneer Cemetery

Eugene Pioneer Cemetery

Lt. Leslie G. Tooze(1895-1918) ─ U. of O. Student, US Army Soldier, Killed in Action in France during WWII

The granite military marker here stands as a memorial to Leslie Tooze, a young man full of promise who was killed in action in France during World War I.Post humously he was awarded the Silver Star for his valor fighting on the edge of the Argonne Forest in northeast France.

A graduate of the University of Oregon (Class of 1916) Tooze and his identical twin brother Lamar were very active in campus leadership. Both were members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Known as “The Tooze Twins” Leslie served as the editor of the annual YMCA handbook and Lamar had been student body president. In his first year at Harvard law school, Leslie won the Beal prize for best law brief. The brothers were attending Harvard law school when they enlisted.

After securing his commission at the Presidio, Leslie Tooze served in France as a 1st Lieutenant in the 4th Platoon, Company K, 364th Infantry, 91st Division. The brothers spent most of the war apart. Then in 1918 Lamar was stationed in Leslie’s regiment in northeast France.

The night before Leslie was shot by a sniper, Lamar had a dream that a bullet pierced his brother’s head between the ear and the edge of his Army helmet. The next morning Lamar warned Leslie not to fight.

As the head of his platoon Leslie had to fight. He soldiered on and was killed in the advance on Baulny Woods. When Lamar received the news, he crossed the infamous No Man’s Land to retrieve his brother’s body. A bullet had hit his twin exactly where Lamar’s dream foretold.

UO law professor Mary Wood—Lamar’s granddaughter—says the story went down in family history as a lesson to “trust intuition” and follow instincts.

Originally buried in France, in 1921 Leslie Toozewas re-interred at Eugene Pioneer Cemetery near the campus he loved. Tooze’sburial was perhaps the most lavish and widely-heralded of any soldier-student ever laid to rest in the cemetery. Many notable Ducks attended the funeral. Honorary pallbearers included the editor of the Eugene Guard, UO deans Colin Dymentand Eric W. Allen, and University President Prince Lucien Campbell. During the funeral, Campbell remarked that Leslie held a special place in the heart of the University.

The son of Walter L. Toozeand Sadie Barns, upon his father’s death in 1942 Tooze’sremains were moved once again. This time to Riverview Abbey in Portland leaving an empty tomb. For decades no marker stood on Grave Plot No. 5.

“Where Leslie remains are, however, doesn’t matter as much as his sacrifice.” said Randy Fletcher / SUVCW. Now, Leslie Tooze’smarker honors the price the young man paid so soon after graduation.

After the battlefields of Europe, Lamar returned home and completed the Harvard law school education he and his brother had started before the war. He continued to serve in the Army and was a two-star general by the end of WWII. Upon retirement, Lamar settled in Portland where he worked as a lawyer and raised a family.

An identical twin herself, Mary Wood said despite her grandfather’s success and longevity he never fully recovered from the loss of his other half. “Identical twins can be a powerful force as a duo, and that’s what Leslie and Lamar were.”