Salisbury Press

Monday, March 30, 2020

George M. Leader

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by The Press in Obituaries

former Pennsylvania governor

George Michael Leader, 95, a self-described "seventh generation Pennsylvania Dutch farmer," who was the second youngest Governor of Pennsylvania, died in his home in Hershey, May 9, 2013. He was the husband of the late Mary Jane Leader who died in 2011.

He attended Gettysburg College, then finished his degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1939.

He served in the U.S. Navy as a Supply Corps Officer on the USS 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 at the age of 36.

In 1962, he 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.

He was active in community organizations throughout his professional life. 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, local charities that supported students in the Harrisburg School District, and on international organizations serving Africa and in particular, Ghana.

He is survived by a son, George Michael III and his wife Karen; daughter, Jane and her husband Ted Janeczek, son, David Charles and his wife Liesa; 12 grandchildren; two great-grandsons; Anne Gardner Leader of Hummelstown, widow of his son; brother, Henry B. Leader of York. He was predeceased by a son, Fred.

Contributions may be made to the not-for-profit assisted living community that he founded in Harrisburg, Ecumenical Retirement Community, 830 Cherry Drive, Hershey, 17033; a program that assists ex-offenders to prepare for employment, CRAM (Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry), 509 Division St., Harrisburg, 17110; or his church, Derry Presbyterian Church (Mission and Peace Fund), 248 East Derry Road, Hershey, 17033.