Corbett orders state flags lowered for Former Governor George Leader; state lawmakers offer condolences

Written by witf | May 9, 2013 2:51 PM

Photo by Capitol Preservation Committee

Governor Tom Corbett today ordered all Pennsylvania flags lowered to half-staff immediately in honor of former Governor George Leader who died today at the age of 95.

Corbett also issued the following statement on the death of Leader:

“As a governor and in the years after public service, George Leader defied political labels and conventional thinking in his tireless work for Pennsylvania and its people. He was among the first of our leaders to warn against budget deficits and he was an early proponent of civil rights and economic development.

“His life after politics, as an entrepreneur serving the state’s seniors, and as an advocate for continued government reform, and an unsurpassed grasp of politics of the past century, made Governor Leader an essential source of advice and counsel at all levels of the commonwealth.

“Susan and I both mourn the passing of a distinguished public servant, a personal friend, and a significant figure in the political history of Pennsylvania.’’

Corrections Secretary John Wetzel issued this statement:

“If a man is measured by the impact he has on others, then Governor Leader was a giant in this commonwealth,” Wetzel said.

“Not only did he fund a prison ministry, but he participated in that ministry and improved the lives of thousands of inmates,” Wetzel continued.

Wetzel said that Leader worked with Governor Tom Corbett and with the Department of Corrections’ administration to push corrections reform.

“True to his name, he really was a valuable asset for this administration in both educating the public and helping us to begin the conversation about improving corrections policy,” Wetzel said.

“I personally benefitted from his advice about general government operations, but more importantly I benefitted from his friendship, and he will be missed.”

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued this statement:

“Gov. Leader was a pioneer in reforming state government. He started the transformation of state government from a patronage system to professional workforce.

“He lived the definition of a statesman in his approach to government and his approach to life after being governor. His passing is a great loss to York County and the entire state because he was an inspiration to many people and provided counsel to many governors in the past half-century.

“When I jumped into the race for auditor general I had lunch with Gov. Leader to get his perspective and bounce ideas off him. His advice and insight proved right on the mark.

“Tracey and I will keep the Leader family in our thoughts and prayers.”

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said:

“I am saddened to learn that former Governor George Leader has passed away. Governor Leader’s integrity and commitment to public service set an example that every elected official should emulate. He was a statesman and a problem solver who was able to work with Democrats and Republicans in the best interest of our Commonwealth. He was also one of those rare individuals who achieved great success in both the public and private sectors, and did both with grace and honor. The thoughts and prayers of the Casey family are with the Leader family at this time.”

Leader was 36 years old when he was elected Pennsylvania’s 36th governor, serving from 1955 until 1959.

Originally from York County, Leader graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, earning the rank of ensign and serving on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theater.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Leader and his family established a number of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities. He continued to be active in the business, visiting some of the facilities on a weekly basis.

More recently, Leader was actively involved in Corbett’s effort to reform Pennsylvania’s corrections system. Leader joined the bipartisan effort to make the prison system more efficient and effective.

Flags will remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of his funeral. Service arrangements for the former governor are pending.

witf produced the following profile of Former Pennsylvania Gov. George Leader several years ago.

In the interview below, Leader talks about partisanship and the deal making process when he was in office.

In the interview below, Leader talks about abuse of the two party system.

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