Charles J. Leiman, school psychologist, dies

He had been supervisor of Baltimore County school psychologists and decorated World War II veteran

  • Charles Leiman
Charles Leiman
February 07, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Charles John Leiman, retired supervisor of psychologists for Baltimore County public schools and a World War II bombardier, died Jan. 27 of heart failure at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson. He was 93.

The son of a grocer and a homemaker, Dr. Leiman was born in Baltimore and raised in Brooklyn Park.

"Working in the grocery store was hard work, so he knew he wanted to go to college," said his daughter, Judith L. Leiman of Parkville.

After graduating from Glen Burnie High School, Dr. Leiman earned a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Washington College and a master's degree in social work from Catholic University of America in Washington.

He was drafted into the Army in March 1941, and at the end of the year, transferred to the Army Air Forces, where he was trained as a bombardier.

Dr. Leiman served with the 8th Air Force's 91st Bomb Group of the 324th Squadron, which was based at the Royal Air Force Bassingbourn airfield in England. He completed 25 missions over Germany aboard B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers.

Discharged in 1945, his decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.

After the war, he worked as a reporter for Dun & Bradstreet and taught history at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in Brooklyn.

After earning his Ph.D. in psychology in 1952 from the University of Kentucky, Dr. Leiman worked as a psychometrist at the Veterans Administration in Baltimore.

In 1958, he was appointed head psychologist for Baltimore County public schools.

During his tenure, Dr. Leiman developed a model for referring children to psychological services that included the school psychologist, guidance counselor, parents and school administrator.

Dr. Leiman's program came to the attention of the U.S. Department of Education, which eventually incorporated it into Public Law 94-182, his daughter said.

In 1960, Dr. Leiman punctured the myth that suburban life for children was better than that for their urban counterparts and noted that emotional problems occurred as frequently in children who lived outside of a city as those who lived in an urban environment.

"Whether the family lives in a slum or in a deluxe home makes little difference. It is the emotional climate in the family that is going to determine whether there will be emotional problems," he told The Baltimore Sun in a 1960 interview.

"If the father in the suburbs is overly interested in making a good living to keep up with the Joneses, his attitude might upset family cohesion. He may be away too much of the time on business trips or at conventions," he said.

"And his wife may be too involved in organizations to take care of their children. The suburbs have every type of emotional problem the city has, even though the causes might change or the problems might manifest themselves differently," he said.

"I first met Charlie after I graduated with my doctoral degree from Duke and was working at the veterans hospital in Lexington, Ky., to make a little extra money," said Dr. Morris Roseman, who retired as chief psychologist at the Veteran Administration's Outtake Center in downtown Baltimore.

"I taught part time at the University of Kentucky, and Charlie was one of my students in 1949. He also was an intern at the veterans hospital in Lexington," he said.

"He was rock-solid. He was always steady, alert, cooperative and competent. He did his work without flourish and did it well."

In 1956, Drs. Leiman and Roseman and two other psychologists established Psychological Services in the 1200 block of N. Calvert St.

"Charlie was a relatively quiet man but spoke up when he had something to say," Dr. Roseman recalled. "There was something else about him. In those days, we never spoke about the war, and certainly he never bragged about his distinguished war record."

Dr. Leiman also was a member of the Committee for Licensure in Maryland and had been appointed in 1966 by Gov. Millard J. Tawes to the Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

He organized the Maryland School Psychologist Association and was a member of the Baltimore County Mental Health Advisory Committee.

In addition to his work with county schools, Dr. Leiman worked part time at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital and was on the board of the Woodbourne School. He was also a hearing officer for the Maryland State Department of Education.

Dr. Leiman taught psychology part time at Towson University and at what is now Loyola University Maryland.

He was a volunteer teacher helping students earn their General Educational Development certificates. A history buff, he also was a volunteer docent at Homewood House Museum on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University.

The longtime Towson and Timonium resident, who moved to the retirement community in 2008, enjoyed reading, gardening, swimming, dancing and playing bridge. He also liked sailing the Chesapeake Bay.

Dr. Leiman was a member for more than 50 years of Havenwood Presbyterian Church in Timonium, where a memorial service was held Saturday.

Also surviving are his wife of 66 years, the former Jane Mehner; three sons, John C. Leiman of Gig Harbor, Wash., James M. Leiman of Detroit and Bruce B. Leiman of Denver; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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