Doris Hurst Leapard, 1919 - 2008

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Doris Hurst Leapard, 1919 - 2008


Civic leaders


Doris Hurst Leapard was a devoted patron of the arts in Tuscaloosa and a member of many civic groups.

Leapard was born in Middletown, NJ, on May 3, 1919 and grew up near New York City. She graduated cum laude with a music degree from New York University.

Leapard met her husband, Tuscaloosan Bill Leapard, on a blind date at the height of WWII. While he served three years in India for the signal corp., she taught music in public school and sang and played piano on the club circuit. They married in December, 1945, and moved to Tuscaloosa. They helped in his family's restaurant, Pug's Place, and later opened Leapard's Interiors on University Boulevard.

An accomplished pianist and singer, Doris used her gifts to establish a link to the community through the arts. When a national council on the arts was being formed in Washington, DC, she worked with the Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority to create an arts council in Tuscaloosa, which was achieved in 1970. Doris ran the Arts Council as a volunteer for years until a director was eventually employed.

The Tuscaloosa Community Singers is another arts organization that owes its birth to Leapard. Beginning in 1966 with fifteen singers, she and Dr. Fred Prentice built one of our community’s special musical treasures. She was an active member of the Episcopal Church where she was choir director for many years.

In the segregated lifestyle of the 1960s, Doris displayed her character and courage to lead in making music education available to young black children through the Tuscaloosa city schools as well as at Christ Episcopal Church, where she brought together white and black children’s choirs.

Leapard was active in forming the Tuscaloosa chapter of PRIDE, which stands for Parent’s Resource Institute for Drug Education. In another venue, she played a key role in supporting the West Alabama Humane Society.

March 25, 1999 was declared Doris Leapard Day by Tuscaloosa Mayor Al DuPont. In 2006 she was inducted posthumously into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

An article from the Tuscaloosa News archives about Leapard is available at:

Material from the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama was used in this description and can be found at:


Tuscaloosa News
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama


Tuscaloosa News


Nov. 19, 2008


Betty Slowe (Description)
Elizabeth Bradt (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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