Remembering Our Beloved Bob Leach
1914 – 2008
Justice for Homicide Victims’ co-founder and President Robert W. Leach passed away March 30, 2008 following a lengthy illness. Bob has championed the rights of homicide victim survivors over the last twenty-five years following the murder of his step-daughter, Marsy Nicholas. In 1983, Marsy, then a senior at UC Santa Barbara, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend, Kerry Conley.
A few days after Marsy’s funeral, Bob and Marcella were returning from visiting her gravesite when they stopped at a local market to get a loaf of bread and encountered the murderer in the market. He had been released on bail. They were shocked that the person who murdered their daughter could be walking around free. They were mad and sad and started what would become their fight for victims everywhere. They knocked on the doors of Governors, State Attorney Generals, local District Attorneys and many others working for justice for all homicide victim survivors. Over the years, Justice for Homicide Victims’ has succeeded in raising awareness and increasing the rights of crime victims, as well as providing support and services to families of victims. Both Bob and Marcella Leach have been recognized by many local and national organizations for their dedication to Victims’ Rights.
Born in Dupree, S.D., Bob came to Los Angeles as a teenager to see the summer Olympics in 1932. He was a graduate of Los Angeles High School and earned a Bachelor’s of Journalism at the University of Missouri. A journalist and screenwriter, he started out on night rewrite at United Press International and later wrote for such classic television shows as “Perry Mason” and “Men Into Space” and worked on films such as “Pat and Mike” and “Adam’s Rib”. During WWII he was deployed to Pearl Harbor where he served for four and half years in the South Pacific, was made Flag Lieutenant to Vice Admiral Elliott Buckmaster, and then promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He served on the USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal and in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, among others. After the war, Bob worked on production for both MGM and CBS writing scripts for many popular television programs of the day.
Later Bob switched to teaching and eventually became an instructor in screenwriting and journalism at UCLA. There he got to know a journalism student, Marcella Nicholas, a single mother with two small children, Henry (Nick) Nicholas, then aged 6, and Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, aged 3. Bob and Marcella married and moved to Malibu, and Bob dedicated himself to the task of raising Nick and Marsy.
For many years Bob was the emcee of JHV’s annual Memorial held during Victims’ Rights Week at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary. He was interred there next to Marsy at the Homicide Victims’ Memorial, built through a grant made possible by Nick. We will all sincerely miss Bob’s wit, smile and leadership.