Gov. George M. Leader

By on May 15, 2013

95, elected in 1955 at age 36

George Michael Leader, 95, a self-described "seventh generation Pennsylvania Dutch farmer," who was the second youngest Governor of Pennsylvania, died at his home in Hershey Thursday, May 9, 2013.

A granddaughter, Meredith Janeczek Mills of Lititz, is among his surviving relatives.

Leader graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939. Later that year, he married Mary Jane Strickler and began service in the U.S. Navy as a supply corps officer on the USS Randolph. Following World War II, and in line with his family’s seven generations of farmers, he bought a poultry farm in York County. Eventually, 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 in 1955 at the age of 36. In 1962, Leader 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 most recently serving as its chairman, president and CEO.

Funeral services will be held Thursday in Hershey.

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