George Michael Leader
Son of Guy Alvin Leader. Born: January 17, 1918. Died May 9, 2013. George M. Leader, who was elected governor of Pennsylvania at age 37, died May 9 at his home at an assisted living facility in Hershey, Pa. He was 95. Leader, a Democrat, took office as governor in 1955 and served one four-year term, the maximum allowed by law at the time. He was the second-youngest person to be elected Pennsylvania’s governor. He fought to rid government of patronage jobs and improve social services. Under his leadership, the state overhauled its mental health system and made special education a requirement in schools. He was the first Pennsylvania governor to appoint an African American to his cabinet. Mr. Leader served in the state Senate from 1951 to 1954, succeeding his father. He was widely expected to lose the 1954 gubernatorial election, but he used the new medium of television to gain a sizable edge over his rival, Lt. Gov. Lloyd Wood.
Leader, who rose from his parents' chicken farm to become governor in 1955. Mr. Leader ended his political career after losing a bid for U.S. Senate to Republican Hugh Scott in 1958. He spent the subsequent decades running a chain of assisted living businesses and fighting for causes such as prison reform. In 1939, he married Mary Jane Strickler. She died in 2011. Mr. Leader served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Randolph during World War II. When the war ended, he returned to York County and used a GI loan to buy a 110-acre farm.
Washington Post Obituary: May 10, 2013