A man found dead in his front yard in Lampasas was a retired Killeen Independent School District teacher.
Harold Leate, 66, was found with several stab and cut wounds at his rural Lampasas residence in the 200 block of County Road 3355 at 3:20 p.m. Friday. He retired from his job as a science and world cultures teacher in December 2016.
KISD spokesman Terry Abbott confirmed in an email Tuesday that Leate had retired from teaching at Nolan Middle School.
The death is being investigated by police as a “possible homicide,” according to a news release from the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers went to the house on a possible homicide call and found Leate lying in the front yard of his home.
“Investigators suspect foul play and processed the crime scene late into Saturday,” the news release said.
Janice Fowler taught at Nolan Middle School with Leate for nearly 20 years. The two were both in the military before becoming teachers, she said, and they used to joke around between classes. As a science teacher, Leate often warned Fowler of the weird noises that might arise from his classroom during experiments, she said.
“The world has really lost out, his grandkids have really lost out. He was really worth knowing,” Fowler said. “He made you smile, and he made you laugh. I’m just heartbroken over this.”
During school, Leate specialized in making science enjoyable for middle school-age students. He helped build a butterfly garden outside of the school, and installed weather instruments above the science lab so students could see how weather and winds impact their environment. Even the classic Mentos and Diet Coke experiment was a common sight.
Leate was featured in a 2004 Herald story in which he took his eighth-grade summer school science class outside at the end of the school year to combine rocket science with physics.
The teacher and his nine students attempted to set off homemade rockets into the sky after watching the movie “October Sky.”
The movie is a biographical depiction of the life of Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who took up rocketry after being inspired by the first Sputnik launch, despite his career choice being against his father’s wishes.
“Our goal here at Nolan is to prepare kids for high school,” Leate told a reporter in 2004. “Why should that change during summer school?”
On his RateMyTeachers.com page, Leate garnered praise from students and their parents.
“Harold Leate is my child’s science teacher at Nolan Middle School. He is patient and fair with the children,” one comment said. “I know he is willing to work with our son in order to give him every opportunity to pass.”
Herald archives show that Leate was the supervisor of the Nolan Middle School Science Club in 2001.
Outside of the classroom, Leate was a DJ, a loving father and a motorcyclist. It wasn’t uncommon for him to volunteer to DJ a school dance or a friend’s wedding at hardly any cost.
Leate was in a terrible accident on his motorcycle about two years ago in which he punctured a lung and broke both of his ankles, Fowler said. But just six weeks later, he was back in the classroom.
“He didn’t have enemies,” Fowler said. “He’s not the type of guy who would engender those types of feelings from anyone.”