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Leigh Carrington Rhett Sr. / March 21, 2011
Leigh Carrington Rhett Sr. died peacefully on March 17, 2011 at home on his farm in Halifax County. Born to Albert Haskell and Emma Riley Leigh in December, 1920, he was raised in Summit, N.J. As a young boy, he traveled with his mother and his aunt Mary Cocke to Virginia visiting his uncle Judge Henry Carrington Leigh in Danville and his grand-aunt Rebecca Leigh Morton in Clarksville. Later his family took up summers on the island of Chappaquiddick off Martha’s Vineyard where he became an avid sailor and nature enthusiast.

After graduating from Summit High School, he attended the University of Virginia, where he played football for the Cavaliers. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as first lieutenant during World War II before returning to the University of Virginia where he obtained a law degree. After serving in the Korean War, he earned a Master’s degree in economics from Columbia University and worked for the Bank of New York while residing in Brookside, New Jersey. He earned a Ph.D. in business administration from New York University in 1962.

Dr. Rhett served in various capacities as a college and university administrator. Among his many academic accomplishments, he was assistant professor of economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Between 1963 and 1969, he was Dean of School of Business and Economics and Dean of College of Arts and Sciences at California Western University in San Diego, Calif.. He retired in 1993 after ten years as president of the University for Humanistic Studies. He was active in the community and served on the board of trustees for a number of nonprofit organizations.

He was a resident of San Diego for 43 years before relocating to Virginia in 2007. He was a devoted photographer of nature, especially wild flowers. In 2005, he published Wildflowers of the Guy Fleming Trail, a tribute to the natural beauty of Torrey Pines State Park in California. In the following year, he published his book on philosophy, “One Life to Live” — a guide for living a good life while dealing with the stress and demands of the modern world.

He leaves his wife and good friend, Alice Runping Zheng, Ph.D., three sons from his first marriage to Virginia Cooper: Leigh Carrington Jr., Albert Haskell and his wife Jane of San Diego. and Henry Cooper and his wife Angeline of Sisters, Ore., two sons from his second marriage to Beatriz Mariscal: William Leigh, Ph.D. and his wife Alex Corina of Sacramento, Calif., and Randolph Leigh, J.D. and his wife Angela Dale of San Diego. He also leaves six grandchildren, Felix Haskell, Zoe Virginia, Simon Leigh, Oscar James, Hannah Leigh, and Emma Leigh (expected in May).

Dr. Rhett was respected for his academic acumen and known for his unflinching honesty and his mischievous sense of humor. He was a man of principles and a spiritual leader. He will be greatly missed by his wife and children. Burial will be at Mountain View Cemetery, Danville, Virginia with Reverend Wilson Carter officiating. Donations can be sent to the Torrey Pines Docent Society, P.O. Box 2414, Del Mar, CA 92014 or the Missionary United Soup Kitchen, 402 Traver Avenue, South Boston, VA 24592. Checks should be notated “In memory of Leigh Rhett.”

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