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Frederick A. Leckie died at age of 84

We are deeply sorry to report that Fred Leckie died on Friday, 14 June 2013, at the age of 84.  A brief description of Fred's career is contained in the 2000 ASME Materials Division Newsletter, when Fred received the Nadai Medal.

The funeral is at Christ Church, 1415 Pelhamdale Avenue, Pelham Manor, NY 10803, on Friday June 21st, at 10am.  In lieu of flowers, a contribution can be made to the University of St. Andrews American Foundation Inc with a note for it to be applied to bursaries for Scottish students in memory of Fred Leckie.

PDF icon ASME MD Newsletter 2000.pdf141.43 KB


Zhigang Suo's picture

Fred was the Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Environmental Engineering, of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), when he hired me as an assistant professor, in 1989.  On the day of interview, he and Bob McMeeking took me for a walk along the beach near the campus. 

He became a mentor.  He was a gentleman. He led by encouragement, bringing out the best efforts from us.

He was a scholar, and was particularly fond of ideas of practical use.  He taught me how plastic ratchetting worked.  Years later, I used the idea to understand a mode of failure in computer chips.  In my lectures on plasticity at Harvard, I describe Leckie's demonstrations of ratchetting.

When I was at UCSB, he often talked to me about a textbook he was working on.  He felt that our profession had moved on, but our textbooks for beginning engineering students had not changed for a long time.  His textbook was later published.

The last time I saw him was at the US National Congress on Theretical and Applied Mechanics, in 2010, at Penn State.  He came to the simposium in honor of the 60th birthday of Bob McMeeking.  He looked frail, but had perfect memory of days we were together in Santa Barbara.  He talked about his textbook and old friends. He asked me how iMechanica was doing.



Let us write few words about Fred at thisvery sad moment.


We were with him at Santa Barbara doing our PhD,s . Kulo
first joined him at UIUC (Illinois) and after Fred and his team moved to UCSB,
we also joined him in 1990. He had a rch blend of students and colleagues working
with him at UCSB from many countries throughout the world. His students and colleagues
from his days in Europe up to his retirement in USA were knitted together
closely as a Leckie family in Mechanics (as fondly called by Prof. Jean Lemaitre
from LMT, France who was spending a sabbatical leave at UCSB in 1990-91). In
fact our mentor back in Sri Lanka (Prof. Muni Ranaweera) was also one of the
earliest students of Fred at Cambridge University.


Fred had a good sense of Engineering applications and
clarity of mind to sense practicality of many complex engineering calculations.
One could never get through him by just showing some mathematical solutions and
graphs obtained by rigorous analyses. He always had some simple benchmark problems
to compare. That is something we learned from him during our association with
him. His text book “Strength and Stiffness of Engineering Systems” is based on
this practical sense. It is a blend of traditional Strength of Materials approach
and the design led approach. With the launch of this book in 2009, we are sure that
Fred will be remembered in the Engineering field for generations to come even
though he has left this world.


May he rest in peace.


Shobha and Kulo Herath

University of Peradeniya

Sri Lanka

Fred was my Teacher, Mentor
and Friend. My association with him dates back to 1966 and it continued for 47
years till his demise. It was an association which profited me immensely; academically,
socially and financially.


As a research student from
Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) I first met him at Cambridge in October 1966. At that
time I had no idea in which area and with whom I should do my research, but a
brief talk with Fred convinced me that I should work on finite elements and he
is the person with whom I should work.


Fred was the best supervisor
one could have. He had a thorough knowledge of research done all over the world,
and he was in the forefront.  At that
time finite elements was the hot topic and many researchers were working on
non-linear problems using iterative techniques. Fred’s suggestion to me was to
tackle plastic limit load analysis using a direct approach utilizing


While I was in my second
year at Cambridge, Fred accepted the Chair in Engineering at the University of
Leicester, and I had to take the decision of moving to Leicester and continue
work under Fred, or remain at Cambridge and work under a different supervisor.
I had no hesitation about doing the former, but in order to keep my
registration with Cambridge, I stayed there till
I fulfilled the Cambridge
two year residency requirement. At the end of my second year at Cambridge I
moved to Leicester and joined the engineering group there which at that time
was doing pioneering work on computer aided design.


After I returned to Sri Lanka
in 1969 to teach at the Faculty of Engineering, I introduced finite element analysis
to our advanced structural analysis course. When it came to the appointment of
an external examiner to the course Fred was the obvious choice. He readily accepted
our invitation to be the external examiner, even though he did not get any
benefit for the time and efforts he had to put moderating the exam paper and
checking the marking. He continued to be our external examiner for almost three


Fred was always in the
forefront of research, and while working with him I was able to expose myself
to current research in mechanics.  When it
was time for me to take my first sabbatical in 1976, Fred was working on
fracture mechanics, among other things, and I readily accepted his offer to
come to Leicester and work with him. From Leicester Fred moved to UoI Urbana-Champaign
and I followed him there in 1978 to continue with research on fracture
mechanics, and also to teach a course on computer aided design and computer
graphics, which Fred was very keen to introduce to mechanical engineering
students there. After three years at UoI, I returned to Sri Lanka and when it
came to my second sabbatical in 1987 Fred was the Head of TAM at UoI, and I
readily accepted his offer to come to TAM to teach and do research on mechanics
of composites. After Fred left UoI and moved to UC Santa Barbara, I spent 6
months there with him in 1989 teaching and continuing with research on
composites. In 1994 I took my third sabbatical and worked with Fred at UCSB for
one year developing software for technology transfer using HyperCard. Fred was
very keen that research findings should go to designers in simple form for them
to use, and his idea of using presentation software for technology transfer was
novel at that time. He was to give a keynote address in a conference in Sri Lanka on
this topic in 1995, but could not make the trip due to security reasons. 


Fred not only helped me and
my family, but also my university – the University of Peradeniya. In addition
to being an external examiner, he supervised four PhD students from Sri Lanka
all of whom returned to teach at the University. We use in our mechanics of
materials courses his latest book, which is a welcome departure from standard
books on the subject.


More than 10 years I spent
with him in UK and USA was some of the best and most productive times of my
life. At times my family (Dilani, Aruna, Isuru & Dilanthi) was with me, and
Fred, his loving wife Liz and their three children (Gavin, Gregor & Sean)
made all of us welcome and comfortable. They were great hosts, and we always
looked forward to gatherings in their house. Fred was a great conversationalist,
and going with him for long walks after work in Santa Barbara beach, was a
rewarding experience I loved very much.  


After Fred retired from
UCSB, my family and I kept in touch with him and whenever we were in USA, we
made it a point to go and meet him. Last time we met him was in 2011, and at
that time he was writing a book on Liz. He also showed me a part of the autobiography
he had written, and I was amazed at the minute details he had mentioned there.
We had a meal in an Indian restaurant with hot curries, which he enjoyed.  


We Buddhists in Sri Lanka
believe that what you do in this life (your Kamma), decides where you
will go after death. I am sure that with all the good he has done to so many,
Fred will be in a very good place.


Muni Ranaweera

University of Peradeniya,
Sri Lanka.


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