Freeman Leighton

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Freeman Beach Leighton, chairman emeritus of Leighton and Associates and professor emeritus of Whittier College, died at his home in PGA West, La Quinta, Calif. on Wednesday (Oct. 3, 2012) at the age of 87. He was born Dec. 19, 1924.

He graduated from the University of Virginia where he served as president of the Student Body, chairman of their esteemed Honor System, and battalion commander of the NROTC unit. On the same Saturday he received his degree and his ensign commission, he was married to Wanda Jean Downey of his native Urbana.

After attending Harvard Business School, he served on active duty in the Panama Canal Zone as a supply officer. A year later he received a scholarship to the California Institute of Technology where in 1951 he received his Ph.D. in geology. A scholarship has been named after him at his alma mater.

His consulting firm became a leader in landslide prevention and control and hillside development. Before his retirement in 1988, the company grew to a staff of 385 employees distributed throughout 12 California offices headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

Leighton has been internationally honored with Distinguished Practice and Career Awards. He was best known for removing the guesswork from slope instability and for restoration of large landslides such as the Laguna Beach Landslide.

A prolific author, he produced over 40 published works. Through his Palm Desert Office he discovered the beauty of the Coachella Valley.

He leaves behind his three children, Jamie Marie Young, Richard Beach Leighton and Roger Loren Leighton, and two brothers, Morris W. Leighton and Richard Leighton.

The family suggests memorials to the American Cancer Society in honor of his oldest son, Stephen Morris Leighton, who succumbed to cancer in 1997.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Fairhaven Memorial Services, 27856 Center Drive, Mission Viejo, Calif.

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