Roger B Leithead, 93, of Old Chatham, New York, passed away on September 19, 2023. He died peacefully surrounded by family and friends.
Roger was born on May 1, 1930, to Barry Truman and Alberta Hamilton Leithead in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduation from Scarsdale High School in 1948, he went on to study Engineering at Iowa State University.
At Iowa State, Roger was a college radio disk jockey, and participated in Air Force ROTC. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Air Force and entered pilot training. He became an Air Force Captain and flew several aircraft in his 6 years of active duty. By far, his greatest pleasure came from his flying more than 1000 hours in the "left seat" of the legendary B-29.
On December 27, 1952, Roger married Margo Payne. They went on to have 5 children.
Roger left active duty in 1957 and moved to Atlanta to become a salesman for the Arrow Shirt Company, a division of Cluett, Peabody and Company. He continued to fly aircraft as a member of the Air Force Reserve for the next 10 years.
In 1960, Roger became the Regional Sales Manager for the Arrow Shirt Company in Atlanta, Ga, and then was promoted in 1966 to President of Clupak, another division of Cluett Peabody based in New York City. Roger moved his family to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1966. After several years, he left Clupak and joined Westvaco as Licensing Manager. He retired from Westvaco in 1994.
After a brief retirement period, Roger spent 23 years as a school bus driver for the Ichabod Crane School District, retiring as a driver at age 89. He loved his school bus, and the "Little Darlings" that rode on them.
Roger was an accomplished equestrian for more than 60 years. As a young man, he competed at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York. He was invited to compete on both the US Olympic Dressage and Jumping teams, an unprecedented accomplishment, but elected to "fly airplanes instead". He never regretted that decision.
Roger was an avid Fox Hunter for most of his life. He served as Master of Fox Hounds of both the Shakerag and the Old Chatham County Hounds, and hunted as Whipper-In with several fox hunts, including the Litchfield County Hounds in Litchfield, Connecticut, and the Woodside Hounds in Aiken South Carolina. His entire family enjoyed fox hunting with him.
Roger also served as Vice President of the United States Pony Club, a youth organization that involved his entire family for many years.
Roger's family and friends knew that he had 4 great passions: airplanes, horses, school buses, and American History. His stories on these topics were legendary. Roger was a deeply patriotic American. One of his greatest post-retirement pleasures was reading the Declaration of Independence every year at the Malden Bridge Community Center 4th of July celebration which he did more than 10 years in a row,until he was 92 years old.
Roger was predeceased by his parents, Barry and Alberta Leithead, his wife Margo Payne Leithead, and his sisters Ann and Melinda. He is survived by his sister Winifred, and his 5 children: Roger Jr, (Tad), John, Holly, Hannah, (husband Tim), and Timothy, (wife Lauren), as well as 17 grandchildren: Barry, Michael, Matt, Tyler, Braeden, Brooke, Morgan, Merrill, Margo, Morgan, Melinda, Timmy, Brendan, Sean, Meghann, Cailin and Duncan, and 8 great grandchildren: Anderson, Camille, Adalynn, Lucy, Charlotte, Lilly, Chloe, and Waverly.
The viewing will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 pm on Friday, September 29 at Bonds Funeral Home in Valatie, NY. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, September 30, at St. Paul's EpiscopalChurch in Kinderhook, NY.
An interment including Military Funeral Honors and the committal service will be held in Stillwater, PA at a future date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Kinderhook, his beloved parish for many years.
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