John L. Leathers

John L. Leathers, 82, of State College died on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 at home after a long battle with cancer. He was born July 30, 1931 in Ridgway, the youngest of four sons, to the late Ira Bartram Leathers and Hazel Minnick Leathers. On Aug. 23, 1958, he married Gretchen Ashbaugh Leathers, who survives. He is also survived by three children; William Stuart Leathers of Harland, Vt.; Jennifer Jane Bernheim and her husband Douglas of Stanford, Calif., Robert Andrew Leathers and his partner Trijntje Downes and her son Matthew Bowles of Alexandria, Va.; and three grandchildren; Jacqueline V. Leathers, Madeline R. Bernheim and Ethan D. Bernheim. In addition he is survived by numerous nieces and nephews and his beloved horse, Deep Dark Secret. He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers: Armand, Wayne and Morgan. He graduated from Johnsonburg High School and Clarion University and served as U.S. Marine during the Korean War. He then earned a master's degree in counseling education and psychology and a doctoral degree in higher education from Penn State. John began his career in education at Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio, serving as an assistant professor of education and psychology, dean of Student Affairs and assistant to the president. From 1968 to 1974, he was director (CEO) of the Penn State Altoona campus. In 1974, he became executive director of the commonwealth campuses, as well as the acting director of Penn State's Advanced Technology Center of Central and Northern Pennsylvania. In 1985, John became acting director of Penn State's systemwide Division of Continuing Education. From 1987 through his retirement in 2001, he held the following positions: assistant and associate vice president for research and special projects, interim provost and dean of Penn State Capital College and interim dean of the Commonwealth College. A long-serving member of the Applied Research Lab's Advisory Board, John was personally involved in the late 1990s with assisting in the establishment of the Institute for Nonlethal Defense Technologies [INLDT] at Penn State. Since that time, he served continuously in an advisory capacity with the institute, eventually becoming the law enforcement liaison, nurturing and expanding the extensive network of contacts with police professionals in and outside the United States. John's individual efforts on the Advisory Board of the International Law Enforcement Forum [ILEF] specifically helped build strong and ongoing collaboration with the United Kingdom's national policing organizations. John was the primary influence in adding Canada, Finland and New Zealand into ILEF. John played a key role when the INLTD was designated a Department of Justice's Center of Excellence. He was involved in several important projects relative to school and campus safety. He developed the strong Penn State partnership with Virginia Tech, which was instrumental in the adoption and initiation of the behavior threat assessment process at Penn State. As a result of John's personal efforts in school safety, a wide network of school districts across the state and country directly benefited school security-related products generated at Penn State. In addition to his professional work, he served on a number of community committees in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Altoona Hospital Board during the 1970s and recently was an emergency room volunteer at Mt. Nittany Medical Center. He was sailor, a horseback rider (lover of trail rides), and a pilot. In addition to his own dogs, he and his wife opened their home to many Golden Retrievers who needed a foster home. He was a member of St. Paul's Methodist Church and also attended St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Friends were received at Koch Funeral Home on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Interment was at Graysville Cemetery on Monday, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. and a memorial service followed at noon at St. Paul's Methodist Church, 109 McAllister St., State College. Memorial gifts may be made to one of the following: Penn State Arboretum, in memory of John Leathers, University Park, Pa. 16802; Centre County Farmland Trust, in memory of John Leathers, Box 604, Centre Hall, Pa. 16828; St. Paul's Methodist Church, in memory of John Leathers, 1410 Trout Rd., State College, Pa. 16801. Arrangements were under the care of the Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at