The Rider-Pool Foundation

Leon Holt, Chairman Emeritus, Honored and Remembered

On Sunday, September 13, 2020, Leon C. Holt, Jr., former Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Trustee of The Rider-Pool Foundation passed away in Allentown at age 95.

In early September of 2020, Mr. Holt was formally named Chairman Emeritus of The Rider-Pool Foundation. In awarding this title, Edward F. Meehan, Executive Director, expressed his deep appreciation for Mr. Holt’s leadership by remembering highlights of his tenure serving The Foundation and The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust as follows:

Leon Holt’s deliberate, thoughtful and purposeful leadership enabled decades of very positive results. To highlight just a few:

Mr. Holt served as a Trustee of The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust from November 29, 1982 through June 18, 1996, serving as Chairman for most of those years. During that time, The Pool Trust made more than $28 million in grant distributions to “enable LVHN to become a superior regional hospital and improve the health of the citizens of the region.” He crafted that mission statement which holds to this day.

Mr. Holt’s skillful leadership enabled funding for progressive and far-reaching efforts, including the creation of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Lehigh Valley Stroke Program, the Perinatal Partnership, Smoke Free Lehigh Valley, and the Alert Partnership for a Drug Free Valley.

His most ambitious effort was to create the Partnership for Community Health in June, 1992. Mr. Holt co-chaired that visionary work with Peter Likens, then President of Lehigh University. It was a collaborative effort of Pool Trust, the seven voluntary hospitals in the region and Lehigh and Northampton County medical societies. It would be a visionary and exciting program if initiated in 2020. Mr. Holt was decades ahead of his time in understanding the social determinants of health and how to approach regional health improvement.

He also led the effort to modernize The Pool Trust’s investment strategies and helped grow the Trust’s portfolio from $25 million to more than $80 million.

During his 40-year plus tenure as a Rider-Pool Foundation Trustee, The Foundation made almost $9 million in grants. In particular, arts organizations such as the Allentown Art Museum, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival were managed and sustained because of his encouragement and guidance. Perhaps more important than the actual dollars distributed, he led The Rider-Pool Foundation to its current philosophy and approach: strategic, proactive, and impactful.

Again, decades ahead of his time, Mr. Holt took the lessons he gleaned in his national research on revitalization of distressed downtowns convened by the Council on Economic Development and brought them home. He guided both Lehigh and Northampton counties and the Lehigh Valley Partnership toward the establishment of the “Spirit of Investment.”  Relatively small amounts of strategically placed Rider Pool funds leveraged substantial resources to examine and plan systemic efforts to revitalize our downtowns, limit suburban sprawl, and preserve green space. We did not achieve the entire vision, but the work continues.

That said, the Lehigh Valley is substantially better off because of his prescient understanding of what the Lehigh Valley needed, and still needs. Leon Holt was a constant citizen whose impact will be felt for generations.

-Edward F. Meehan, MPH
Executive Director

Leon and June Holt
Edward Donley, John P. Jones III, and Leon C. Holt Jr.
Leon C. Holt, Jr. and Edward F. Meehan