We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Robert W. Waid Funeral Home, Inc.
Daniel Joseph Leech, 95, tool and die maker, machinist, self-taught metallurgist and founder of Leech Carbide, was born on 23 November 1926 in Buffalo, New York and died 14 September 2022 peacefully at home in Meadville. He was a son of Joseph (Joe) Peter Leech, a machinist born in Manchester, England, and his American-born wife, Blanche Ethel Daniels. As a boy, Dan moved with his family, which grew to include brothers Robert and Thomas, to Chicago. In 1934, the family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, and in 1939, to Meadville, just as the world was entering the second world war.
Dan’s education began in Chicago and continued in Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Meadville High School in 1945. He earned his student pilot license in 1942 at age 16 and became a licensed pilot in 1944. Shortly before graduation from high school, Dan joined the Army Air Corps and planned to attend pilot training; however, with the end of WWII in 1945, the need for new pilots was greatly diminished, and as a result, he attended Photography School in Denver, Colorado. He was discharged from the service in November 1945. He loved flying for the remainder of his life, logging over 5000 hours in the air and carried a camera with him for the rest of his life.
After returning to Meadville, he and his father founded Leech Tool & Die Works in 1948. In the early 1960s, Dan became interested in tungsten carbide, and he began studying the processes for manufacturing and machining the exceptionally hard material. Developing technologies for manufacturing tungsten carbide demanded both machining and metallurgical expertise, along with inventiveness, experimentation—and collaboration. Meadville, which had attracted some of the best machinists and engineers to perfect the design and manufacture of the zipper, and the home of Allegheny College, turned out to be an ideal location for this endeavor. Tapping into this wealth of practical expertise, Dan devised and built innovative one-of-a-kind machines and processes for mixing, pressing, shaping, sintering, and finish-grinding tungsten carbide. He founded Leech Carbide in 1965.
Dan married in 1948, and the couple had five children: Daniel Thomas (Patty), Diana, David, Debra and Joseph Mark. He married Joyce Stubbe Hamilton in 1966 and they had a daughter, Maureen. Dan and Joyce raised six children together, including his son, Dan; Joyce’s children: Nanci Hamilton, Judy Fairlamb (Mark), Bill Hamilton (Paula) and Stacy Sheedy (Bryan); and their daughter, Maureen Leech (Roger Lexa). Dan is survived by his children, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his brother, Thomas Leech (Nancy). He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Joyce in 2014, and two brothers, Joseph and Robert Leech.
Dan was honored to be named an “industry legend” in 2006 by the Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association. He has been a member of the Meadville Rotary Club since 1953 and was a Mason for more than 65 years. He was proud to be a founding member of the Petroleum History Institute.
Calling hours will be Sunday, September 18th from 2-5 p.m. at the ROBERT W. WAID FUNERAL HOME, 581 CHESTNUT ST., MEADVILLE with a Masonic service at 4:45 p.m.
The funeral service will be Monday, September 19th at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home.
Interment will be in Vroman Excelsior Cemetery, Warren County.
Memorials may be made to the Meadville Rotary Club, P.O. Box 119, Meadville, PA 16335.
Memories and condolences may be shared at www.waidfuneralhome.net
Meadville Rotary Club
P.O. Box 119, Meadville PA 16335