Jack E. Leisch, a former Baltimore resident who had been a federal roads engineer and later retired from his own engineering firm, died Sunday of cancer at a hospital in Evanston, Ill.
Services for Mr. Leisch, who was 78, were being held today at the Weinstein Brothers Chapel in Wilmette, Ill., where he resided.
Born in Europe, he was a 1932 graduate of the Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore and a 1935 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University. At Poly, he was a member of both the track and football teams.
In 1936, he began working for the Bureau of Public Roads on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.
He served as chief of the bureau's design development branch and helped in the development of the interstate highway system and highway design standards for the Federal Highway Administration.
In 1956, he moved to Chicago and became chief highway engineer for the engineering firm of DeLeuw, Cather & Co. From 1963 to 1969, he served as vice president and chief engineer of its Canadian branch and lived in Toronto.
Returning to Chicago, he started his own transportation consulting firm, Jack E. Leisch and Associates, which did work in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Israel and Thailand besides the United States and Canada before he merged it with a Colorado engineering firm and retired in 1989.
A lecturer at graduate engineering schools, he was the recipient of the Theodore M. Matson Memorial Award of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and other awards from the Department of Commerce, the transportation research board of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Bettye Holtzman; two sons, Gregory H. Leisch of Alexandria, Va., and Joel P. Leisch of Glenview, Ill.; his mother, Tania L. Harris of Miami Beach, Fla.; and five grandchildren.