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LEO S. PACKER


1920 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
LEO S. PACKER Obituary
PACKER, Leo S. Engineer, scientist, corporate executive, diplomat, government official, and international science and technology consultant, Leo died January 14, 2016 at the age of 95 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Born August 5, 1920 in Romania en route to the United States, Leo was raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Boys High School and graduated from City University of New York in 1941 with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering and an ROTC commission in the infantry reserves. In 1943, alarmed by the advancement of Nazi Germany, he volunteered for active duty, serving in the European and Pacific theaters of war as an Army combat engineer. Leo was awarded the Bronze Star medal and four campaign stars. Resuming his studies in 1947, he received his master's in engineering sciences from Harvard University. In November, 1948, Leo married Dorothy S. Slepian, a Boston native and musicologist, commencing what he described, upon Dorothy's death in 2014, as a 66-year love affair. Together they raised three children, Janet Packer, a violin teacher and concert violinist who died in 2014; Michael B. Packer, an e-commerce entrepreneur and managing director at Merrill Lynch, killed in the events of 9/11; and Alex J. Packer, a psychologist, educator, and author, who survives him. In 1956, Leo obtained his doctorate in engineering from Cornell University. He led a diversified professional life specializing in industry-government relations, science and technology policy-making, and research and development in high technology industries. After managerial positions at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Bausch and Lomb, and Xerox, Leo was nominated Assistant Postmaster General by Lyndon B. Johnson, becoming the first Presidential appointee to lead the Post Office Department's Bureau of Research and Engineering. In 1973, Leo became director of the State Department's Office of Technology Policy and Space Affairs. Fluent in French, he and Dorothy moved to Paris in 1976, where Leo served as U.S. Counselor for Science and Technology to OECD. In 1981, he became Resident Director of the National Academy of Sciences Applied Science and Technology Program in Cairo, Egypt. Retiring to Paris in 1984, Leo remained professionally active as President of AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas), and Founder and President of ICET (International Council for Engineering and Technology). Among numerous professional memberships, Leo was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Life Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. A licensed private pilot, he was a member of The Cosmos Club during his years in Washington, DC. Alongside his interests in science and technology, Leo was a humanist who adored classical music, art, literature, and travel. A long-time civil rights progressive, Leo was appalled at current political trends, and lent his support to organizations fighting for dignity, justice, and equality. He took great pride in his children and, while devastated by the loss of his wife and the early deaths of a son and daughter, felt blessed to have led a life full of love, adventure, and accomplishment. Leo will long be remembered for his generosity, intelligence, courage, positive spirit, and myriad contributions to country, science, and technology.

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Published in The Boston Globe on Oct. 30, 2016
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