Richard Sully Leghorn, 98, of Osterville died January 15, three weeks shy of his birthday. He leaves family in Mashpee.
Born in Brookline and raised in Winchester, he was the son of Agnes Sully Leghorn and George Leghorn.
He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939 with a bachelor of science degree in physics. Upon graduation he worked for Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, in photographic research. In the early 1950s he headed Kodak’s European division.
He was called to active service with the US Air Force in 1941 and commanded the 30th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron during from 1943 to 1945, including preparations for the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the opening of Buchenwald concentration camp. In 1946, while en route to the Pacific for Operations Crossroads, he read a summary of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Europe) and recognized the need for a new reconnaissance philosophy focused on adversaries’ capabilities rather than on targeting and damage assessment.
Recalled to duty in July 1946, then-reserve Lieutenant Colonel Leghorn photographed Operation Crossroad’s first nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll.
Recalled to active duty again during the Korean War, he headed the Reconnaissance Systems Branch at Wright Air Development Center before being assigned in early 1952 to the development-planning staff of Colonel Bernard A. Schriever in the Pentagon. In the latter position, Colonel Leghorn contributed extensively to MIT’s Air Force-funded Project Lincoln, which issued the 1952 Beacon Hill Report that identified extremely high-altitude vehicles that could carry improved sensors near or over Soviet territory. This laid the groundwork for the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.
From 1946 through the early 1960s, Mr. Leghorn was involved with public policy related to national security, arms control, and disarmament. As a consultant to President D. Eisenhower’s Assistant for Disarmament Affairs during 1955-56, he was instrumental in formulating the “Open Skies” doctrine. He participated in early Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and, from 1959 to 1960, served as technology deputy on the President’s Joint Disarmament Study Commission.
In 1957 Mr. Leghorn founded Itek Corporation in Lexington that from 1957 to 1965 developed and manufactured the world’s most sophisticated satellite reconnaissance cameras for the highly classified CORONA project.
In 1963 he became president of Dasa Corporation, a manufacturer of communications equipment. From 1966 to 1985 he owned and operated nine cable television systems in five states.
He was a leader in the cable industry and served on the board of the National Cable Television Association for 12 years. In 1988 he founded Cable Television Laboratories (CableLabs), a research and development consortium and technology laboratory for the cable industry. In 1998 he was designated “Father of CableLabs” by its board of directors.
In 1987-88 he founded Eidak Corporation to provide copy protection for video and television programming and co-founded Magnascreen Corporation to develop large, flat-panel television displays. From the latter company he spun off Mirror Systems, Inc., to develop liquid-crystal mirrors for trucks and automobiles. In 1994 Mr. Leghorn formed OKTV, Inc., to create an alternative parental control system for managing television’s impact on children.
He became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a long-term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1989 MIT established the Richard S. Leghorn Professorship in Management of Technological Innovation. In 2006 Mr. Leghorn was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame. In 2008 Mr. Leghorn was awarded the Special Vanguard award for his vision and outstanding contributions to the cable industry.
He leaves his wife, Nancy Cross Leghorn; her children, Paul Garrity and his wife, Robbie Garrity, of Chesapeake, Virginia, Kevin Garrity and his wife, Adrianna Garrity, of Marstons Mills, Dr. Mark Garrity of Mashpee, and Andrea Wood and husband, David Wood, of Centerville; his daughter, Lisa Leghorn of Grant County, New Mexico; his stepdaughter, Camilla Williams of East Dorset, Vermont; his grandchildren, Yana Warner, Lily Williams, Michael Garrity, Joseph Garrity, Kelli Garrity, Madison Garrity, Liam Garrity, Grant Garrity, Luke Garrity, Delaney Wood and Nate Wood; and his nieces, Christine Leghorn of Beverly, Susan Fontaine of Boulder, Colorado, and Carlen Olsen of Sarasota, Florida.
Mr. Leghorn was preceded in death by his son, Ken Sully Leghorn; and his brother, Ken Leghorn.
Services were at Doane, Beal & Ames Funeral Home in Hyannis on January 20.
Burial at Beechwood Cemetery was private.