John Leadley 1927–2005
John Leadley, emeritus professor of mathematics, died February 24. Leadley taught at Reed from 1956 to 1993. Colleagues remember him as a devoted and demanding teacher who was widely respected by his students. He and Professor Lloyd Williams created Math 113, “Construction of Real Numbers,” which was considered one of the most demanding freshman courses taught anywhere in the country. This course attracted and converted many able students into mathematics majors.
Leadley grew up in Stafford, New York, and was in the Navy twice: once at the end of World War II, and again for a year during the Korean War. In between these two stints, he earned his B.A. in just three years from St. Lawrence University in New York. After the Korean War ended, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Washington, and in 1956, was appointed a visiting instructor at Reed. He was extremely valued by the college and was offered a tenure-track position at the end of that year. He enjoyed pointing out that he was one of the last of the permanent faculty who was hired at the rank of instructor. Leadley took a two-year leave from Reed to work on his Ph.D. with Professor David Harrison, a highly regarded algebraist at the University of Oregon, finishing the degree in 1966.
Of Leadley, Kevin McCrimmon ’60, professor at the University of Virginia, writes: “I came to Reed in 1957 out of the prairies, with enthusiasm for chemistry, mathematics, and humanities. Despite the exciting teaching of John Hancock and Marshall Cronyn in chemistry, Warren Sussman in history, Marvin Levich in philosophy, and Jean Delord in physics, it was John Leadley who turned my path forever towards mathematics, first through his second-year calculus course, then his abstract algebra course, and finally his direction of my undergraduate thesis.”
Katherine Socha ’90, professor at Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, writes: “The word mentor is thrown around these days as if it were something new, but Leadley was a true mentor and a master teacher. He was like Archimedes’ Principle: many, many small acts of support and encouragement and patience added up to a huge effect on students.”
In 1994, Leadley established the John D. and Margaret A. Leadley Scholarship for women majoring in mathematics. He is survived by his two children, John Jr. and Sarah.