Portrait from the Bench and Bar of New Jersey,1942.
Hailing from the same New Jersey county that produced the esteemed A.M.P.V.H. Dickeson, Salem County resident Sedgwick Rusling Leap was a practicing lawyer for many years and also made a name for himself on the New Jersey political scene, serving as a state assemblyman, state senator, and common pleas judge. Born in the borough of Penns Grove on July 16, 1886, Sedgwick R. Leap was the son of John and Julia Ware Leap.
Young Sedgwick attended schools local to Penns Grove and went on to study at the West Jersey Academy at Bridgeton. He would further his education at the Wharton School in Philadelphia and graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910. Following his graduation Leap spent one further year of study in the law office of Judge Maja Leon Berry (profiled here in October 2014) and in 1911 was admitted to the New Jersey bar.
From 1911 to 1913 Leap practiced law in Camden with a partner, William Darnell. Leap would later leave that firm and operate a solo practice for three years, and in 1916 joined the firm of Leap, Sharpless and Way as a senior partner. Leap was also a veteran of the First World War, serving in the U.S. Army. In January 1921 he married to Bridgeton, New Jersey native Mary Dennis, with whom he would have one daughter, Mary Jane (born 1923).
Active in Republican Party circles in Salem County, Sedgwick Leap represented that county in the New Jersey State Assembly from 1927-1929 and in 1930 began a six-year stint in the New Jersey State Senate, during which time he gave:
"His aid and support to many measures which he has deemed vital to the upbuilding of the state and has just as earnestly opposed those which he believed to be inimical to the welfare of the Commonwealth."In his last year in the state senate Sedgwick Leap became Judge of the Salem County Court of Common Pleas, serving on the bench until 1941. In May of the following year he was reappointed as judge, an office he would continue to hold well into the 1950s. A member of the Salem County, New Jersey State and American Bar Associations, Sedgwick Leap was a longstanding parishioner in the Methodist Church and for a time served as a member of the board of managers of the Vineland, New Jersey Soldiers Home.
Little else could be found on the life of S. Rusling Leap, excepting notice of his death in New Jersey in November 1979 at age 93. A burial location for both Leap and his family remains unknown at the time of this writing.
S. Rusling Leap, 1886-1979.