Roland M. Leach, Jr.
Roland M. Leach, Jr., of Howard, Pa., died Monday, July 29, 2019 after a brief but valiant battle with Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma.
Born Aug. 27, 1932 in Framingham, Mass., to Roland M. Leach, Sr. and Mabel Golden Leach, he is survived by his sons, Raymond (Juliet), of Virginia Beach, Va., Gary (Christine), of Alhambra, Calif., Guy (Jenni), of Clarks Summit, Pa.; their mother and his friend, Ethel; grandchildren, Hannah, Jack, Rachel (Steven), Ava, Maggie, Wyatt, Elly, Abby, Preston; great-grandchildren, Charlie, Olivia, Sophia; and niece and nephew, Jocelyn and David. He was preceded in death by both his parents; his sister, Carol; and his beloved wife of 27 years, Sharyn.
Roland was a native of Maine. He graduated high school from Wilton Academy, earned a BS in agriculture from the University of Maine, an MS in biochemistry and nutrition from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and nutrition from Cornell University.
During the course of his career, Roland worked as a research chemist in the United States Department of Agriculture Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Ithaca, N.Y., beginning his tenure at Penn State University in 1968, as an associate then full professor and named Distinguished Professor of Poultry Science, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. In 2000, he was named the first Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology, and Professor Emeritus, retiring in 2006. While at Penn State, he developed and taught undergraduate courses in animal nutrition and graduate courses in trace element nutrition and skeletal physiology. During his tenure, he served on numerous departmental, college and university-wide committees, and assisted establishing and then served as associate director for the Inter-college Graduate Program in Nutrition. He was a member of Maine’s Stillwater Society, a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Nutrition and the Poultry Science Association. He was awarded the American Feed Manufacturers Association Research Award, as well as the Penn State Gamma Sigma Delta Research Award. He forged a legacy of curiosity and endless discovery in countless undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate/doctoral students over the better half of a century. His life work continues through their global endeavors.
Although he would explain his work as research on the composition and role of the organic material of mineralized tissues, such as cartilage, bone and egg shells, Roland was regarded as a “world-wide leader in the field of bone metabolism, bone growth and development, egg shell formation and mineral nutrition” whose research and findings were said to have “transcended species.” His work with molecular and biochemical mechanisms, along with connective tissue, skeletal disorders, and normal bone growth have had an impact on both human medicine and poultry science, as shared by a former colleague.
Roland’s grandfather, Chester, inspired his love for farming, chickens, and wood, which he converted into sawdust, firewood, and furniture. He was an exquisite and masterful woodworker. He applied his wisdom, love, science, creativity, and diligence to land and life, nurturing his family and fields with the fruits of his hard work. He was tirelessly productive and energetic, making the most of every moment from dawn to dusk, esteeming a good work ethic, rolled up sleeves, a sturdy vest with good pockets, flat toothpicks, classic auto restoration, a quiet place to work, blessing others with his gifts of time, talent, resources, and the value of doing the right thing. He passed on his love of blueberries and baseball to his three boys, but he did not pass on his abiding loyalty to the BoSox.
He shared an affinity for gardening and philanthropy with his wife. Together, they planned, planted, nurtured and harvested bountiful and beautiful crops, trees and gardens, always with enough to share. Dedicated to preservation, Roland committed to stabilize, tend and hold land in trust for future generations.
He was deeply proud of his sons and his bonus sons, adored his grandchildren, and cared for his daughters-in-law as his own. The arrival of his great-grandchildren put a bright new twinkle in his eyes.
The family extends their profound appreciation to their neighbors and friends in the Howard Community, especially the HUMC church family, for their tireless support in these last few months. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation or gift in Rolandás memory to Howard UMC, 144 West Main Street, P.O. Box 257, Howard, Pa.
Family and friends will be received at Howard United Methodist Church on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at 10 a.m. with an 11 a.m. memorial service to follow. A private internment will take place at a later date.
Online condolences may be made at www.legacy.com.