An Extraordinary Heart

Doris Leonard

Doris Leonard claims she’s ordinary. A native of Bethel, Ohio, she was an only child raised by Depression-era parents who courted by mail.

“My mother and dad were very ordinary people, just as I am,”she said.  “Nobody special, but it’s enjoyable to help someone. It really is.”

Ordinary or not, Doris has an extraordinary heart. 

As a young woman, she left Washington University to return home and care for her parents until their deaths. 

“I grew up with the attitude that what you have, you give back,” she said. “My parents had grownup in an era where to survive you had to share and it didn't matter if you had a lot. They never had a lot of money.”

Doris said she was also influenced by Bill Friedlander; she was his assistant for 25 years at Bartlett & Co. 

She learned a lot by observing Bill and his wife Sue—she noticed that they didn't just write checks to charities, they gave of their time and influence as well.

It was also through Bill that Doris first became acquainted with GCF. When he was appointed GCF’s Volunteer Director in 1990 he brought Doris with him. She got to know the Foundation and the community through her work with grants.  More than 20 years later, she’s still interested in the work of the community foundation.

“I know a lot has changed but the bottom line is the same,”she said.  “You (GCF) don’t just hand out money because someone says they have a good cause.  You do due diligence, you do your homework.  But you also err on the side of compassion and I like that too. I like the fact that GCF is broad-based and has its fingers in so many different pies.”

When Doris found herself with extra assets, she turned to GCF for help. 

“I decided, ‘let’s make this money work for somebody else,’”she said. “I know if I go through GCF, they are going to do the paperwork. They make it easier.”

By opening a donor advised fund, Doris knew she could give to the areas she’s passionate about—education, children and senior citizens. She also felt strongly about supporting the Weathering the Economic Storm Fund, established last year during the economic downturn.

Not only did this collaboration remind her of how people helped each other during the Depression, she was impressed that a group of foundations and corporations were pooling resources and making decisions together.

“I felt it was something that needed to be done,” she said.  “My ten cents doesn't go very far but if you put it with somebody’s 50 cents you get 60 cents to work with and can do more with it.  You leverage it.”

What would her parents think about her ability to give away money?

“They would be proud and I think they would be shocked that I have enough money to do something with,” she said. “In fact, I’m shocked.”

Doris shared that at her death, her donor advised fund will turn into an unrestricted fund and increased through a bequest. 

“After I’m gone, I want the assets that I have to continue to give something back,” she explained.“God has been very good to me, much more so than I really deserve. He has blessed me in so many ways and I just want to give some of it back. I’m not a Pollyanna, I’m not a do-gooder, I’m not any of those things, I just got to thinking it would be nice.”

Not just nice. Extraordinary.  

Doris Leonard: An Extraordinary Heart

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