By Leaps And Bounds: Do they only get a quarter of the birthdays?


I was debating whether to talk about February 29th and my annual calendar reform rant.  Real life kept me from that, and what I said on facebook didn’t seem noteworthy enough for here.

Then on March 7, Henri Richard died, age 84.  He died a week after his birthday, February 29, 1936.  Richard won eleven Stanley Cups in a twenty (*) year career is the second most successful in North American pro team sports, bettered only by the NBA’s Bill Russell (11 titles in 13 years).

(* correction, not fourteen)

Another famous person who was born on a leap day and died in a leap year was Louise Wood (Feb. 29, 1920).  She was the head of the US Girl Scouts from 1961-1972.  She died in 1988.

Other notable leap day people (good and bad) include:

  • 1840: John Phillip Holland, inventor of the modern submarine (from Ireland)
  • 1860: Herman Hollerith, inventor of the first tabulating machine used in the 1900 US census and founder of the Tabulating Machine Company (which later became IBM)
  • 1904: Jimmy Dorsey, jazz band leader
  • 1928: Joss Ackland, actor
  • 1940: Gretchen Christopher, singer of The Fleetwoods (#1 hits “Come Softly To Me”, “Mr. Blue”)
  • 1956: Aileen Wuornos
  • 1960: Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker
  • 1984: Cam Ward (2006 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, 2007 World Chamionshipship)

Sure, none of this is life changing, but it’s for the curious.

One thing I recently learnt about leap year babies: most people assume that in other years, their birthday is celebrated on Februry 28.  Maybe individuals do, but governments treat March 1st as their birthday.  When your eighteenth birthday approaches and it’s February 28th, you’re not legally eighteen until the first.  This will likely also apply to sixteen year olds wanting to drive in 2100, but….

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