It's an honor for a teacher to have students vote him or her the outstanding teacher of the year.
Dr. William Marshall Leach Jr., a Georgia Tech teacher for 38 years, earned the recognition four times. Seniors in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering selected him.
In his classes, it wasn't a matter of either you got the material or you didn't. You understood it because he ensured it, said Dr. Gary May, a colleague for 20 years.
"He was just a consummate educator, among the best teachers on our faculty," he said. "To my knowledge it is unprecedented to have a teacher win the award so many times. He just really cared about them learning the material he was trying to teach them so they could benefit with their careers."
In the mid-1990s, Gregory Kiesel of Marietta took as many classes as he could from the audio engineering professor.
"He was very clear and could explain complex material very well," he said. "If he didn't get through to you the first time, he would have a different approach the second time he explained it."
On Nov. 20, Dr. William Marshall Leach Jr. of Tucker died from a heart attack at DeKalb Medical Center. He was 70. Graveside services have been held at Melrose Cemetery in Abbeville, S.C., his hometown. Harris Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Abbeville handled arrangements. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday in room No. 1116 of Tech's Marcus Nanotechnology Building.
Dr. Leach was a 1958 graduate of Abbeville High who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina. He served as an electronics research and development officer at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento from 1965 to 1967.
In 1972, he earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, then became a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Leach taught electromagnetics, microsystems and electronic design and applications. He was a noted mentor, lecturer and author whose third edition of "Introduction to Electroacoustics and Audio Amplifier Design" came out in 2003.
For years, this professor was a technical adviser to Tech station WREK. He once managed a website that provided the histories of Atlanta-area radio stations.
The four-time recipient of the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu outstanding teacher award won the honor in 1973, 1982, 2002 and 2007. He also was named the computer and engineering school's 2007 outstanding counselor and adviser.
Other honors include 1983 engineer of the year for the greater Atlanta chapter of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers, and Tech's 1975 campus-wide outstanding teacher.
Kiesel, the former student, said Dr. Leach's patience and approachable demeanor made him a student favorite.
"He actually cared about teaching," he said.
An only child, he is survived by several cousins.