George Leeland "Lee" Rock

March 3, 2014

The 2010 recipient of the MSU Alumni Service Award, George Leeland "Lee" Rock (BS Elec Egr  '49) of Cadillac, Mich., died Feb. 26, 2014. He was 88.

Fourth-generation George “Lee” Rock was born at the family farm homestead on Stone Ledge Lake on March 23, 1925, to George and Lenora (Boyce) Rock.

He graduated from Cadillac High School in 1942. He volunteered for duty and overseas service in the Army Air Corps, serving as a radio operator in a four-man crew DC3 in the India Burma, Central Burma and China campaigns. Eleven months of combat earned him three Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals and four Major Battle Stars.

He married Victoria Ann Given of Cadillac on Sept. 14, 1946.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Michigan State University in 1949, where he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society, and Pi Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honor society.

After graduating, he worked as an electrical engineer for five years at the Allen Bradley Company in Milwaukee, Wis. He returned to Michigan to work for the Dow Chemical Company for the next 36 years, where he spent nine years as an electrical engineer, six as a process engineer while working in the nascent computer field, and the last 20 years working as a business executive in the research, patent and business development department.

After retiring, he became a venture capitalist, partnering with MSU and the University of Michigan to identify and develop patents related to technology. Additionally, he taught electrical circuitry at Delta College while employed at Dow.

Rock and his wife returned to Cadillac in 1990 when they retired. With a private pilot's license, he served 15 years on the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in retirement, where he gained Officer Grade CAP rank of 1st Lieutenant in 1997 and was awarded the CAP Charles “Chuck” Yeager Aerospace Education Award in 2006.

He was an active member of the South Community United Methodist Church in Cadillac. He had been a member of the Instrument Society of America for 35 years, holding offices of president and vice president of the Midland Instrument Society and later as the society’s national treasurer. Also a 36-year member of Rotary Club, Rock was very involved with their youth leadership programs — the Junior Rotarian Program, Rotary International — and was chair of the Youth Exchange Committee.

He was a member of the Service Corps of Retired Executives and served three years as president. He was a member of the Hump Pilot Association and enjoyed regular reunions with the group. 

He and his wife supported the MSU Electrical Engineering Design Day Humanitarian Project, focused on bringing technology (solar-powered computers) to developing countries.

With his wife, Rock contributed much to the Cadillac community over the years. In 1997, he founded the Lake Association for people who live directly on Stone Ledge Lake in Wexford County and had served as president and vice president of the association. He was co-founder of the Cadillac Area Land Conservancy and served as the Wexford County Conservation Department treasurer for five years. He also created the Cadillac Area Land Conservancy Endowment Fund, the Grix Endowment Fund for Kettunen Center, and was a founding contributor to the Mercy Hospital Endowment Fund.

In 2008, George Lee was inducted into the Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society, which recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of Michigan 4-H alumni.

In 2010, he received an Alumni Service Award from MSU, which is presented to alumni who have demonstrated continuing, outstanding volunteer service to MSU and/or meritorious public service on a local, state, national or international level.

He and his wife were recipients of the 2012 Philanthropist Award from the Cadillac Area Community Foundation.

He is survived by a daughter, Cheryl Lee (Jeffrey H. Dysart) Rock of Del Mar, Calif.; a granddaughter, Victoria Marlin; and a sister, Barbara Ealy of Traverse City.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Victoria; a son, Stephen Rock; a daughter, Maria Levis; a sister, Katherine Olson; and a brother, Fredrick Rock.

A memorial is planned for later this year. His final resting place will be Maple Hill Cemetery in Cadillac.

Memorial contributions may be made to Cadillac Rotary Charities.