There’s a building clean out project underway in Science and Engineering and right before I went on vacation I spent some time over in Ecology and Environmental Biology, digging around in their small basement storage space. (Much more about this later!) There’s a little courtyard area right in front of the department’s office complete with a rock, whose plaque identifies the space as the J. Sayles Leach Memorial Court:
(I looked pretty hard but I couldn’t find a photograph of him anywhere in the archives.) Leach was an interesting and remarkable guy, of a type that you don’t come across much anymore. He was born in Allen, Texas in 1891 but was orphaned early and raised by his grandfather. He graduated from Baylor in 1915 and went to work for the Texas Company (later Texaco) almost immediately. He started as a traveling salesman based in Waco, then became an agent in Wichita Falls. He worked his way up in the company’s sales division steadily (with a mysterious stop as a Lubricating Assistant in Dallas in 1922), was a vice president by 1938. He ended his career as president and chairman of the board. After he retired in 1956 he became very active in the Houston community. He joined Rice’s Board of Governors at that time, serving until his death in 1964. I don’t have any real idea why this particular courtyard is named for him, but it’s kind of a nice spot. There are often, but not always, picnic benches there.