OBITUARY

Richard Sully Leghorn

February 7, 1919January 15, 2018
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Richard Sully Leghorn passed away peacefully on January 15, 2018, just three weeks shy of his 99th birthday. He takes his place among a shortlist of unsung heroes whose role in the cold war may have averted nuclear catastrophe. A brilliant and compassionate man, Richard commanded the 30th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron during the preparations for the D-Day invasion at Normandy, gathering detailed intelligence that helped save lives and assure victory. Later, on the ground with Allied forces as they liberated the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp, he witnessed the consequences of that atrocity first hand, compiling photographic evidence of the unfathomable genocide that had occurred there.

In July of 1946, then reserve Lieutenant Colonel Leghorn was recalled to active duty to photograph Operation Crossroad’s first nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll. During his overflight of two nuclear tests in the Pacific, he looked down upon their destructive power and recalled his experience at Buchenwald. It was his unique vantage point on these two events that informed his work in the formulation of “Open Skies,” the doctrine of mutual reconnaissance and deterrence that may have, more than once, quite literally saved the world. Having seen that humans were indeed capable of the unthinkable, he vowed to do all he could to assure that we would never turn such weapons against ourselves.

As the cold war ensued, he observed ballooning arsenals and virulent suspicions between East and West and contended that pre-emptive strikes posed the greatest threat of nuclear conflagration. Leaning on his experience in aerial reconnaissance and a degree in physics from MIT, he articulated the feasibility and rationale of high altitude strategic overflights. He reasoned that if both the Soviets and Americans knew what the other was doing, the likelihood of either side launching a first strike in blind paranoia would be greatly diminished.

Richard Leghorn was born on February 7, 1919 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Agnes Sully Leghorn and George Leghorn and raised in Winchester, Massachusetts. He graduated from MIT in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. Upon graduation, he worked for Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, in photographic research and in the IP department, and in the early 1950’s headed Kodak’s European division.

Richard was called to active service with the Air Force in 1941 and commanded the 30th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron during 1943-45. In 1946, while en route to the Pacific for Operations Crossroads, he read a summary of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Europe) and became acutely aware of the need for a new reconnaissance philosophy—one focused on documentation of adversaries’ capabilities, forewarnings of surprise attack and monitoring compliance with international treaties rather than on traditional targeting and damage assessment. Speaking at the dedication of the Boston University Optical Research Laboratory (BUORL) in 1946, he advocated for an extremely high-altitude strategic reconnaissance capability.

Recalled to active duty once again during the Korean War, he headed the Reconnaissance Systems Branch at Wright Air Development Center before being assigned in early 1952 to the development-planning staff of Colonel Bernard A. Schriever in the Pentagon. In the latter position, Colonel Leghorn contributed extensively to MIT’s Air Force-funded Project Lincoln, which issued the1952 Beacon Hill Report that identified extremely high-altitude vehicles— balloons, sounding rockets, air-breathing missiles, and aircraft—that could carry improved sensors near or over Soviet territory. This laid the groundwork for the U-2. Although Leghorn and other members of the Beacon Hill Group considered the possibility of observation satellites, it took the launch of Sputnik to garner their active support for immediate development of such platforms.

From 1946 through the early 1960s, Leghorn was deeply involved with public policy related to national security, arms control, and disarmament. He said in the August 5, 1955 issue of U.S. News & World Report, “And we might announce a start on construction of a reconnaissance earth satellite, the transmitted results from which we would be willing to turn over to a U.N. inspection agency.” As a consultant to President Eisenhower’s Assistant for Disarmament Affairs during 1955-56, Leghorn was instrumental in formulating the “Open Skies” doctrine. Leghorn participated in early Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and, in 1959- 60, served as technology deputy on the President’s Joint Disarmament Study Commission in preparation for the ten-nation Geneva Conference.

In 1957, Leghorn founded Itek Corporation in Lexington, MA that from 1957 to 1965 developed and manufactured the world’s most sophisticated satellite reconnaissance cameras for the highly classified CORONA project.

Over the ensuing years, his commitment to open communications and information sharing, transparency, and the First Amendment led to successful and innovative careers in telecommunications and associated industries. In 1963, he became president of Dasa Corporation, a manufacturer of communications equipment. During 1966-85, he owned and operated nine cable television systems in five states.

He was a leader in the cable industry and served on the Board of National Cable Television Association for 12 years, testifying before the House and Senate and was a major participant in cable's first fight against must-carry regulations. He founded Cable Television Laboratories (CableLabs) in 1988, an R&D consortium and technology laboratory for the cable industry and in 1998 was designated “Father of CableLabs” by its Board of Directors.

In 1987-88, he founded Eidak Corporation to provide copy protection for video and television programming; and co-founded Magnascreen Corporation to develop large, flat-panel television displays. From the latter company, he spun off Mirror Systems, Inc., to develop liquid-crystal mirrors for trucks and automobiles. In 1994, Leghorn formed OKTV, Inc., to create an alternative parental control system for managing television’s impact on children.

He became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a long-term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1989, MIT honored him by establishing the Richard S. Leghorn Professorship in Management of Technological Innovation. In 2006, Leghorn was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame. In 2008, Leghorn was awarded the Special Vanguard award for his vision and outstanding contributions to the cable industry.

Richard Leghorn’s papers are available through the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. (archives@bu.edu)

Richard Leghorn is survived by his loving wife, Nancy Cross Leghorn and her children, Paul Garrity and wife Robbie, of Chesapeake, Virginia; Kevin Garrity and wife Adrianna, of Marstons Mills; Dr. Mark Garrity of Mashpee; and Andrea Wood and husband, David of Centerville; his daughter, Lisa Leghorn of Grant County, New Mexico, and his step daughter Camilla Williams of East Dorset, VT. Richard is also survived by his grandchildren, Yana Warner, Lily Williams; Michael, Joseph, Kelli, Madison, Liam, Grant and Luke Garrity; Delaney and Nate Wood. He also survived by his nieces, Christine Leghorn of Beverly, Mass., Susan Fontaine of Boulder, Colo., and Carlen Olsen of Sarasota, Fla. Richard is predeceased by his son, Ken Sully Leghorn and his brother, Ken Leghorn.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Richard’s memory can be made to The Wounded Warriors Project.

Services

  • Visitation Saturday, January 20, 2018
  • Graveside Service with Military Honors Saturday, January 20, 2018
REMEMBERING

Richard Sully Leghorn

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Cargill Hall

January 24, 2018

Dear Nancy, Shirley and I just learned of Dick's death and we wish to express our sorrow at his passing; we are thinking of you and the children. Will always remember our visit to France for D-Day in 2004. Have a picture of you and Dick in France, but it appears there is no way to attach it. As always, Cargill and Shirley

Chris Pocock

January 24, 2018

It is with good reason that Dick's photo is on the first page of my history of the U-2. I consider him to have been the father of that airplane. I was honored to meet him and Nancy during his trip to Europe in 2004.
May he rest in peace,
Chris Pocock,
author, 50 YEARS OF THE U-2

Rick Sturdevant

January 24, 2018

Richard Leghorn was a patriot in every sense of the word. We were proud to induct him as a member of the Air Force Space & Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2006. May he rest in peace.

Joe Mongelli

January 21, 2018

Leghorn Family,
It was my honor to sound taps for Richard's burial yesterday. Not until later did I come to realize that, in an indirect way, he may have been responsible for my father's safe return from Normandy where he participated in the D Day invasion. Although I didn't know him, I (and many others) owe him a great debt of gratitude. If not for their service and heroism, I perhaps would not be here today. Many thanks Richard and Godspeed!

Tara Broadhurst

January 20, 2018

Dear Nancy, Sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Janet Sheehan

January 19, 2018

Dear Mrs. Leghorn and family,

All here at the Wianno Club are so very sorry for your loss and are thinking of you.

Janet Sheehan

David Barrows

January 18, 2018

The legacy of a life well lived with great purpose and compassion. My deepest sympathies for your loss. My deepest respect for the man ,no, human being he was.

January 18, 2018

Nancy and family. I am so honored to have known "Dick" and glad I had the
to opportunity to have had a nice long visit with him in September. I am thinking of you all and wish I could be there with you.
Jeanette
.

January 18, 2018

Oh, how I wish we had known Richard and your family. Thank you for sharing his legacy with the rest of us, who will try in our own ways to continue his messages.
Blessings and love, Mill White

The Staff of Doane Beal & Ames Funeral Home

January 16, 2018

We wish to extend our deepest sympathies at this difficult time.