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Oldest WMU graduate dies at age 106

June 4, 2008

Marion Barber Leach, believed to have been the oldest living graduate of Western Michigan University, died June 1 in Aiken, S.C. She was 106.

Leach received a teaching certificate in 1922 and a bachelor's degree in education in 1926, both from WMU. She later earned a master's degree from the University of Michigan through the education program at WMU. Leach taught for 30 years in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, retiring in 1964. She was a life member of the Michigan Education Association and a longtime member of the WMU Alumni Association.

Born Dec. 30, 1901, in Galesburg, Mich., she was the daughter of the late Frederick and Bessie Bishop Barber. She was married for 53 years to Francis Edward Leach, who died in 1977. She was a lifelong resident of the Kalamazoo area until moving to South Carolina in the early 1990s to be near her son, Phillip Leach. She died peacefully at his home in Aiken.

In addition to her husband, two daughters preceded her in death. She is survived by her son, four grandchildren and three great-granddaughters. A memorial service was held today in Aiken and a private interment will take place at Oak Grove Cemetery in Galesburg.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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