Alexander Leaderman, 80, industrialist, philanthropist

November 08, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Alexander John "Zandy" Leaderman, an industrialist and philanthropist, died Friday at Sinai Hospital of injuries suffered in a fall Oct. 28 at his Pikesville home. He was 80.

The day before, he had worked a full day at his company, East Baltimore-based Rockland Industries Inc., said his son Stephen Leaderman of Baltimore, the company's vice president and treasurer. Rockland Industries is the world's largest manufacturer of drapery liners. Its success is based in large part on the patented fabric Roc-Lon, which does not shrink when washed and resists oil and water. Mr. Leaderman's charitable work includes the establishment in 1969 of the Alexander and Shirley Leaderman President's Scholarship and Fellowship Trust Fund at Brandeis University, and the Alexander Leaderman/W. W. Scott fellowships in urology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1996.

Also in 1996, Mr. Leaderman marked the 18th anniversary of the Camp David peace accords by organizing and funding a duplicate permanent exhibit at Hebrew University in Jerusalem of the photographs displayed at the Carter Center in Atlanta. He also was president and a member of the board of the Staten Island Family Service Organization in New York, where the company had an office.

FOR THE RECORD - Alexander Leaderman: The name of a survivor was inadvertently omitted in an obituary for Alexander Leaderman that was published in yesterday's editions of The Sun. Mr. Leaderman is survived by another son, Stephen Leaderman of Baltimore. The Sun regrets the error.

He was a member of Beth El and Beth Am synagogues.

Born in Martinsville, Va., Mr. Leaderman moved with his family to Baltimore when he was age 6. He was a 1938 graduate of Forest Park High School, and started his first business while in high school. In 1957, he graduated from the Executive Training Program at Columbia University.

In 1941, Mr. Leaderman entered the Army as a private, serving four years in Europe. During that time, he attended Officer Candidate School in London and attained the rank of captain.

He worked with the British high command to plan the Overlord operation and landed at Omaha beach four days after D-Day. He served at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and was decorated by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at the signing of the peace treaty in Reims, France.

Returning home from the war, Mr. Leaderman bought in 1944 the old Rockland Bleach & Dye Works in Brooklandville, founded 30 years before the Civil War and the oldest corporation in Baltimore County. But after two floods at the site beside the Jones Falls, Mr. Leaderman moved the business to Edison Highway.

In a 1992 newspaper interview, Mr. Leaderman said that serving on Eisenhower's staff showed him "the market was a whole lot bigger than the U.S."

Speaking of the drapery liners, he told the reporter, "I want to get into every bedroom in America. Actually, I want to get into every bedroom in the world."

New York textile merchants were skeptical of his claims for Roc-Lon, Mr. Leaderman said, but, "We eventually made believers out of them. We made believers out of the whole world."

Rockland has sales in more than 80 countries from Argentina to Fiji, and has received two awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce for excellence in exporting. It has additional manufacturing facilities in South Carolina.

Funeral services for Mr. Leaderman will be at noon today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. Leaderman is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Shirley Shulman; a daughter, Pamela Berman of Lutherville; a son, Dr. Adam Leaderman of Atlanta; a brother, Maurice Leaderman; two sisters, Mollie Mernick and Edith Bugatch, all of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

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