02/18/2014 4:46PM

Equine veterinarian Leitch dies at age 68


Dr. Midge Leitch, an equine veterinarian best known for her work at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, died of cancer on Feb. 15. She was 67.

A native of Ambler, Pa., Leitch was among the first women to do a surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, after graduating from the school in 1973. She was also one of the first female equine practitioners to become board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, which she achieved in 1982.

Leitch was a renowned practitioner in a variety of equine disciplines, including show jumping, dressage, combined driving, three-day eventing, endurance, and racing. She served as an official veterinarian to the U.S. Equestrian Team, and was in attendance at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga., and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

During her career Leitch gave more than 60 invited lectures and papers, and contributed more than 40 publications to a wide variety of professional journals and books. Among the honors compiled by Leitch were the 1988 Alumni Award of Merit by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ President’s Award, and the AAEP’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012.

Her community and civic activities included involvement with the Southern Chester County Soccer Association; Londonderry Township, where she served as a supervisor for several years; Canine Partners for Life; and The Seeing Eye, for which she served as a puppy-raiser until her death.

“Midge was brilliant,” said Dr. Corinne Sweeney, Associate Dean and Executive Director of New Bolton Center’s large animal hospital. “She had that unique combination of book-smarts and street-smarts, with impeccable judgment. If you were wise, you would seek her advice, and if you were really wise, you would follow it.

“She was always a fierce advocate for those she cared for and respected,” Sweeney continued. “There was no one more loyal to friends and to New Bolton Center staff members than Midge. For these reasons, and many others, her passing leaves a huge void in this community.”

A celebration of Dr. Leitch’s life is planned for this spring, with a date to be announced.