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Harold Obituary

Brought to you by Darrell Howe Mortuary

Harold

January 7, 1929 - April 29, 2024

Harold Obituary

Frederick Harold Leinbach, Jr. (Harold) died at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2024. He was 95 years old. The time is important because Harold, a scientist, always recorded the date and time to the minute on everything from his Sudoku puzzles and travel logs, to his scientific observations.


Harold was always regarded as kind, generous, and simply a really nice human by all who knew him. He had a special place in his heart for children and all types of animals. He had a wry sense of humor and was a bit of a jokester at times.


He was born in Fort Collins, Colorado nine months before the great stock market crash of 1929 changed the world. As a young boy, his father took him well after midnight to see the moon through a friend’s telescope, “and it was an absolute thrill.” That event proved influential on both his career and hobby in astronomy.


Always curious about how things work, at South Dakota State University he asked about an unused telescope observatory atop one of the buildings. A professor told Harold and a friend if they could clean it and fix it they could get college credit, yet another event firmly setting his future course. Graduation from SDSU in 1949 with a B.S. in General Science, Mathematics, and Physics was followed by an M.S. in Astronomy in 1950 from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a Ph.D. in Geophysics at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1962.


Harold specialized in ionospheric physics, auroral physics, magnetospheric physics, and laboratory plasma physics and later all phases of solar activity. The International Geophysical Year (IGY), an 18-month period in 1957 and 1958, was an exciting time across the global scientific community and research took him around Alaska and northern European countries doing auroral research. Harold helped develop the first riometer, which became a standard ionospheric research tool, and did 3D rangefinding on auroral height with stereo photography using surplus WWII K-24 aerial cameras.


Harold was at the University of Alaska from 1950 to 1962, both as a graduate student and employee in the geophysics department. He met his first wife, Ruth Eckhardt while at U. of A. Ruth died in 1988.


The US Army gave him an offer he literally could not refuse; a paid break from his university life with a job working in 1954 and 1955 at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal during the Korean Conflict where he did statistical analysis for quality control on nerve gas containers. The work was pretty quickly done each day, leaving time to play lots of handball games.


Harold taught physics at the University of Iowa from 1962-1966 then moved to Boulder where he joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) working until retirement at what is now the Space Weather Prediction Center, a facility that forecasts impacts of solar activity on various services such as communications, satellites and human space travel, military needs, and power grid providers - and predicts aurora. The large solar storm event of May 10-13 was a lovely send off.


Harold published many professional papers throughout his career. He was also thrilled to have his photographs of railroading activity in the 1950’s near Burns, CO published in the December 2018 issue of Trains Magazine. You can hear him talk about his life’s work in his interview with The American Polar Society and the Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Archival Program, documenting the early days of American polar exploration.


Music was important to him, from playing piano throughout his life, clarinet in high school marching band, oboe in the Boulder Philharmonic, and taking up the flute in his mid 40’s. He played music with friends in several groups for decades around Boulder and regularly attended classical music concerts. Harold met his wife, Joan Wheeler, at Chamberre, a music camp for adults, just in time to avoid his kids adopting a dog as company for him. Harold and Joan married in 1994.


Harold is survived by his wife, Joan Leinbach, daughter Lori McAllister (Mark), son Kent Leinbach (Joanie), grandchildren Keegan McAllister (Cathy Douglass), Leanna McAllister (Collin Mathers), Abby Leinbach, and Ben Leinbach, and great granddaughter Anne McAllister Douglass.


No services are planned at this time. The family will hold a private memorial at a later date.


Harold requested that any memorial donations be made to the Nature Conservancy.


To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Harold hosted by Darrell Howe Mortuary.

Frederick Harold Leinbach, Jr. (Harold) died at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2024. He was 95 years old. The time is important because Harold, a scientist, always recorded the date and time to the minute on everything from his Sudoku puzzles and travel logs, to his scientific observations.


Harold was always regarded as kind, generous, and simply a really nice human by all who knew him. He had a special place in his heart for children and all types of animals. He had a wry sense of humor and was a bit of a jokester at times.


He was born in Fort Collins, Colorado nine months before the great stock market crash of 1929 changed the world. As a young boy, his father took him well after midnight to see the moon through a friend’s telescope, “and it was an absolute thrill.” That event proved influential on both his career and hobby in astronomy.


Always curious about how things work, at South Dakota State University he asked about an unused telescope observatory atop one of the buildings. A professor told Harold and a friend if they could clean it and fix it they could get college credit, yet another event firmly setting his future course. Graduation from SDSU in 1949 with a B.S. in General Science, Mathematics, and Physics was followed by an M.S. in Astronomy in 1950 from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a Ph.D. in Geophysics at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1962.


Harold specialized in ionospheric physics, auroral physics, magnetospheric physics, and laboratory plasma physics and later all phases of solar activity. The International Geophysical Year (IGY), an 18-month period in 1957 and 1958, was an exciting time across the global scientific community and research took him around Alaska and northern European countries doing auroral research. Harold helped develop the first riometer, which became a standard ionospheric research tool, and did 3D rangefinding on auroral height with stereo photography using surplus WWII K-24 aerial cameras.


Harold was at the University of Alaska from 1950 to 1962, both as a graduate student and employee in the geophysics department. He met his first wife, Ruth Eckhardt while at U. of A. Ruth died in 1988.


The US Army gave him an offer he literally could not refuse; a paid break from his university life with a job working in 1954 and 1955 at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal during the Korean Conflict where he did statistical analysis for quality control on nerve gas containers. The work was pretty quickly done each day, leaving time to play lots of handball games.


Harold taught physics at the University of Iowa from 1962-1966 then moved to Boulder where he joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) working until retirement at what is now the Space Weather Prediction Center, a facility that forecasts impacts of solar activity on various services such as communications, satellites and human space travel, military needs, and power grid providers - and predicts aurora. The large solar storm event of May 10-13 was a lovely send off.


Harold published many professional papers throughout his career. He was also thrilled to have his photographs of railroading activity in the 1950’s near Burns, CO published in the December 2018 issue of Trains Magazine. You can hear him talk about his life’s work in his interview with The American Polar Society and the Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Archival Program, documenting the early days of American polar exploration.


Music was important to him, from playing piano throughout his life, clarinet in high school marching band, oboe in the Boulder Philharmonic, and taking up the flute in his mid 40’s. He played music with friends in several groups for decades around Boulder and regularly attended classical music concerts. Harold met his wife, Joan Wheeler, at Chamberre, a music camp for adults, just in time to avoid his kids adopting a dog as company for him. Harold and Joan married in 1994.


Harold is survived by his wife, Joan Leinbach, daughter Lori McAllister (Mark), son Kent Leinbach (Joanie), grandchildren Keegan McAllister (Cathy Douglass), Leanna McAllister (Collin Mathers), Abby Leinbach, and Ben Leinbach, and great granddaughter Anne McAllister Douglass.


No services are planned at this time. The family will hold a private memorial at a later date.


Harold requested that any memorial donations be made to the Nature Conservancy.


To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Harold hosted by Darrell Howe Mortuary.

Events

Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of Harold.