George M. Leader
George Michael Leader served as the 36th Governor of Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 from January 18, 1955 until January 20, 1959. He is a member of the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, and a native of York County, Pennsylvania
York County, Pennsylvania
York County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 434,972. It is in the Susquehanna Valley, a large fertile agricultural region in South Central Pennsylvania....

. Currently he is the only person from that county ever to be elected governor of the state.

Early life

George Leader was the third child of Guy and Beulah Leader. He grew up on their York County
York County, Pennsylvania
York County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 434,972. It is in the Susquehanna Valley, a large fertile agricultural region in South Central Pennsylvania....

Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 farm, and was educated in a one-room school
One-room school
One-room schools were commonplace throughout rural portions of various countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In most rural and small town schools, all of the students met in a single room...

house. He later graduated from York High School, then attended Gettysburg College, in Gettysburg, Pennyslvania, before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania from which he received an undergraduate degree. He did graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, with a focus on philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, and political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

. Leader received an MGA from the Fels Institute of Government
Fels Institute of Government
The Fels Institute of Government is the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program in public policy and public management. Its practical approach to public management education, its Ivy League pedigree and its relatively small size make it one of the nation's leading boutique programs in public...

 at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1939, he married Mary Jane Strickler, and, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he served on an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 in the Pacific Theater
Pacific Ocean theater of World War II
The Pacific Ocean theatre was one of four major naval theatres of war of World War II, which pitted the forces of Japan against those of the United States, the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands and France....



Following the war, Leader began a family-operated chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

A hatchery is a facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions, especially those of fish or poultry. It may be used for ex-situ conservation purposes, i.e. to breed rare or endangered species under controlled conditions; alternatively, it may be for economic reasons A hatchery is a...

, and served in leadership positions in the York County Democratic Party. He successfully ran for Pennsylvania State Senate
Pennsylvania State Senate
The Pennsylvania State Senate has been meeting since 1791. It is the upper house of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Pennsylvania state legislature. The State Senate meets in the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. Senators are elected for four year terms, staggered every two years such...

 in 1950, winning the 28th district seat
Pennsylvania Senate, District 28
Pennsylvania's 28th Senatorial District is based in York County and includes the City of York. It also includes the following:*Codorus Township*Cross Roads Borough*Dallastown Borough*Delta Borough*East Hopewell Township*East Manchester Township...

 previously held by his father, Guy. In 1952, he ran for State Treasurer
State Treasurer
In the state governments of the United States, 49 of the 50 states have the executive position of treasurer. Texas abolished the position of Texas State Treasurer in 1996....

 of Pennsylvania. Despite narrowly losing that race, he built name recognition for himself that would be useful for any future run for state-wide office.

Leader utilized this name recognition to run for governor in 1954. The Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 had a large edge in voter registration in Pennsylvania at this time, and no Democrat had been elected governor since 1934. Despite these disadvantages, Leader picked up substantial support from labor and agricultural interests, and managed to defeat Lt. Governor Lloyd Wood, the Republican nominee, by 280,000 votes. Sworn in on January 18, 1955, one day after turning 37, he was the second youngest person ever to be elected to the post.

During his administration, Leader initiated programs to deal with Pennsylvania's lackluster economy and its substantial budget deficit. Shortly after taking office, in June 1955 he signed legislation that authorized the construction of a Curtiss-Wright research facility at Quehanna, in Clearfield County; the Sanitary Water Board also issued a permit for the discharge or radio active waste into Mosquito Creek
Mosquito Creek
Mosquito Creek may refer to:*Mosquito Creek , a California tributary of the North Fork Feather River*Mosquito Creek , a tributary of the Missouri River*Mosquito Creek , a California tributary of the Feather River source...

 and the Atonmic Energy Commission issued a twenty-year license ot operate a four megawatt nuclear reactor. He also increased funding to education, engaged in a highly publicized campaign to reform Pennsylvania's state mental hospital
Mental Hospital
Mental hospital may refer to:*Psychiatric hospital*hospital in Nepal named Mental Hospital...

s, and carved out a role for the state in protecting the civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 of African-Americans and other minorities.

Leader was unable to run for re-election in 1958 because the Pennsylvania Constitution that was in place at that time term limited governors to a single four-year term. Instead, he opted to run that year for a seat in the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, a race which he lost to Republican Congressman Hugh Scott
Hugh Scott
Hugh Doggett Scott, Jr. was a politician from Pennsylvania who served in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and who also served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.- Early life :He was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on November 11, 1900...


Later life

Although Leader never again sought elected office following his 1958 defeat, he stayed active in Democratic politics and has spoken out on a number of issues. He and his family established Country Meadows and Providence Place Retirement Communities in the 1980s and 90s, and he currently resides in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Hummelstown is a borough in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 4,360 as of the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area....

. Leader still activity operates the non-profit Providence Place Retirement Communities, while his family operates Country Meadows facilities. Country Meadows' CEO is Leader's son G. Michael Leader, COO is son David Leader, and CFO is son-in-law Ted Janeczek. Mary Jane Leader died March 15, 2011, due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Upon the death of former Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

 governor Elbert Carvel
Elbert N. Carvel
Elbert Nostrand "Bert" Carvel was an American businessman and politician from Laurel, in Sussex County, Delaware...

in 2005, Leader became the earliest serving U.S. governor of any state still living.
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