Remembering George M. Leaderby Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Posted on 2013-12-19
CASEY. Mr. President, as this year ends, I wish to
remember and honor George M. Leader, a former Governor of Pennsylvania,
who passed away on May 9, 2013. Throughout his life, Governor Leader
worked to give voice to the voiceless and protect some of the most
Governor Leader was raised on his parents' poultry farm and educated in a one room schoolhouse before going on to study philosophy, economics and political science at Gettysburg College. He served in the Navy during World War II and returned to open a chicken hatchery in York County, PA. He got his start in politics serving on the York County Democratic Committee then winning a seat vacated by his father to the State Senate. In 1954, he decided to run for Governor and won that election becoming, at age 37, the second youngest Governor in Pennsylvania.
While in office, Governor Leader enacted the Industrial Development Authority in 1956 which provided State financing in order to attract new and diverse industries. The program attracted 71 new businesses and created 12,000 new jobs within the first 30 months. Governor Leader also championed civil rights in all forms. He created the Fair Employment Practices Council to police employment discrimination, and fought for William and Daisy Meyers' family when they were threatened for moving into a white neighborhood. He required Pennsylvania schools to educate children with disabilities, which raised the enrollment by 250,000. He created the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Vocational Rehabilitation Center, which was the first facility in the country that provided rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities. He also established the State Office of Aging and began the inspection of nursing homes.
Governor Leader left office in 1959, but that did not end his service to the people of Pennsylvania. He established Leader Health Care Organization and later Country Meadows and Providence Place Retirement Communities to provide high quality retirement services for our older citizens.
Hubert Humphrey once said that the moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, those in the twilight of life and those in the shadows of life. Governor Leader not only passed this test, he set a standard for other elected officials to follow. My thoughts are with the Leader family during this holiday season and we thank George Leader for his life of service to our Commonwealth and our country.