Dr. Charles Nelson Leach, Jr, age 86, died August 10, 2021, at home in Farmington, CT, with his wife of 59 years, Joan, by his side. He was born June 2, 1935, in then-Peking, China, to Florence Dixon Leach and Dr. Charles Nelson Leach, Sr., where his father taught at Peking Union Medical College. While his father was a prisoner in Santo Tomas Camp, Manila, Philippines 1941-43, Charlie's family moved to Newfane, VT from Montgomery, AL. His father returned to the Rockefeller Foundation's post-WWII European reconstruction projects in 1947, and the family moved between European capital city posts for several years. Back in the U.S., he graduated from Amherst College, in 1956. In 1960, following his graduation from Columbia Medical College, Charlie met his future wife Joan (Gross) at Bellevue Hospital in NY. They were married in 1962, after which he served as a Captain in the Army Medical Corp. In 1967, the family moved to CT. He eventually became Director of Cardiology at New Britain General Hospital where he co-founded the state's first cardiac rehabilitation program and learned Polish to better communicate with and enjoy his patients. Toward the end of his career, he briefly returned to private practice while continuing to teach at the University of Connecticut Medical School. He loved to bring his first year students to the New Britain Museum where he challenged them to see the connection between medicine, music and art. Upon retiring in 2000, he dedicated his energies to volunteering with town and state historical, environmental, and arts organizations. These included the Farmington Historical Society, the Farmington Land Trust, the Farmington Historic District Commission, the Stanley Whitman House, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, where he was a docent. In this latter capacity, he was occasionally seen playing an appropriate period piece on his harmonica to his audience. He enjoyed donning costumes and playing parts in various museum events, including as a colonial doctor for the Stanley Whitman House. In 2007, he was named the Land Trust Alliance's Volunteer of the Year for his advocacy of open space protection. A video honoring his volunteer work and passion for nature and history may be viewed at https://www.farmingtonlandtrust.org/volunteer-spotlight
. Charlie imbued his children and grandchildren with a love for music and the out-of-doors; he and Joan continued to bike, hike, camp and canoe in the U.S. and Europe well into his eighties. He was especially amused by how different his grandchildren were from him and one another and took pleasure in seeing them take their unique paths. At family gatherings he often sported a special pair of red plaid pants and occasionally put a book of limericks in the middle of the dinner table. He will be remembered for his quick wit, infectious sense of humor, love of language and affection for tropical fish. He is survived by Joan (Gross), his wife of 59 years; his sister, Nancy Ward of Williamsburg, VA; four children, Nancy Leach of New Hartford, CT, Cynthia Evans, of West Hartford, CT, Caroline McCrave, of Lyme, NH, and Charles Leach, III, of Lee, MA and their spouses, William Michaud, Peter Evans, Charlie McCrave and Leigh Minor respectively, seven grandchildren, Noa and Talia Michaud, Liam and Aidan Evans, Ellie McCrave and Keegan and Mackenzie Leach, two nieces and a nephew, and many first cousins. The family wishes to thank the Farmington Visiting Nurse Association's Hospice Care, and Drs. Christopher Pickett and Thomas Manger, at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and Dr. John Berk at the Boston University Amyloidosis Trial Study. A Celebration of his Life will be held Saturday, October 16, 2021 at the New Britain Museum of American Art-- time to be announced. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Farmington Land Trust, P.O. Box 1, Farmington, CT 06034, the New Britain Museum of American Art, 56 Lexington St., New Britain, CT 06052 or to the Farmington Historical Society, P.O. Box 1645, Farmington, CT 06034.
Published by Hartford Courant from Aug. 15 to Aug. 17, 2021.