Governor George Michael Leader

Obituary
  • "It was a wonderful privilege to be a part of the chaplaincy..."
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  • "Dear Leader Family, We send our sincerest condolences and..."
    - George Sgagias
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M. Leader George Michael Leader, a self-described "seventh generation Pennsylvania Dutch farmer," who was the second youngest Governor of Pennsylvania, died at his home in Hershey, on Thursday, May 9, 2013. He was 95. Leader attended Gettysburg College, then finished his degree at University of Pennsylvania in 1939. Later that year, he married Mary Jane Strickler, and began service in the U.S. Navy as a Supply Corps Officer on the U.S.S. Randolph. Following the war and in line with his family's seven generations of farmers, he bought a poultry farm in York Co. Soon he became active in local politics and was elected to the State Senate seat previously held by his father. After one term as a Democratic State Senator, he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania in a landslide in 1955 at the age of 36. In 1962 Leader and his wife founded a company that provided skilled nursing and rehabilitation for seniors. By 1981, the company was the largest provider of skilled nursing care in the state. Leader later established Country Meadows Retirement Communities and in 1980 launched Providence Place, where he was currently serving as its Chairman, President, and CEO. Governor Leader was active in community organizations throughout his professional life. In his post-gubernatorial years he served as National Crusade Chairman of the American Cancer Society, on the boards of the Philadelphia Home Loan Bank, and of numerous colleges, universities, and hospitals. In his later years he focused his attention on prison reform, on local charities that supported students in the Harrisburg School District, and on international organizations serving Africa and, in particular, Ghana. Governor Leaderwas pre-deceased by his son, Fred, in 2003, and by his wife, Mary Jane, in 2011. He is survived by his son, George Michael Leader, III (Karen), daughter, Jane Leader Janeczek (Ted), and son, David Charles Leader (Liesa); and by 12 grandchildren, Jennifer J. Leader (Hershey), Alex M. Janeczek (Hershey), George Michael Leader, IV (Hershey), Meredith Janeczek Mills (Lititz), Katelyn E. Leader (Oxford, England), Andrew M. Janeczek (McLean, Va.), Tania S. Leader-Hanmer (Hershey), Ricardo S. Leader (State College), Kristin J. Leader (Hershey), Catia S. Leader (Lisbon, Portugal), Manuel F. Leader (Hershey), and Grace E. Leader (Hershey); and two great-grandsons, Kyle and Colin Leader-Hanmer, also of Hershey. He is also survived by Anne Gardner Leader of Hummelstown, widow of his son, Fred; and his brother, Henry B. Leader of York. Visitation will be held in the Hoover Funeral Home, Route 422 and Lucy Ave., Hershey, on Wednesday, May 15, from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m. in the Derry Presbyterian Church, Hershey. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the following charities would be appreciated: the not-for-profit assisted living community that he founded in Harrisburg, Ecumenical Retirement Community, 830 Cherry Drive, Hershey, PA 17033; a program that assists ex-offenders to prepare for employment, CRAM (Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry), 509 Division St., Harrisburg, PA 17110; or his church, Derry Presbyterian Church (Mission and Peace Fund), 248 E. Derry Road, Hershey, PA 17033. Share online condolences at www.hooverfuneralhome.com
Published in Public Opinion on May 12, 2013
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