Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:48 p.m.
Doris Leach brought her passion and conviction to numerous volunteer pursuits including her role on the senior-citizen advisory commission to the Windsor Town Council.
The South Carolina native was on the panel for about eight years, beginning in the mid-1990s, and was instrumental in bringing bingo to the town’s senior center, said Judy Adams, the youngest of her three daughters.
Leach also was a mentor to troubled teens, worked the polls on election night, served as a Girl Scout leader and was a Rose Lady at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
She did it all with friendliness and hospitality and an enduring southern accent, her daughter said.
“Her passions were great for anything she believed in,” said her daughter, who also lives in Windsor. “She was just fearless to support it. She had the steel in ‘Steel Magnolias.’”
Leach died Jan. 4 of respiratory failure. She was 85.
She was born Doris Kathryn Saylors in 1928 in Greenville, South Carolina. She was one of four children of mill-worker parents.
She graduated from Greenville High School, where she got the nickname Pinkie for wearing pink shorts, and performed in a play with fellow student, actress Joanne Woodward.
In 1952, she and her brother Bud moved to Jacksonville, Florida to get jobs. Her brother introduced her to her husband of nearly 60 years, a sailor from Maine named Edward Leach, at a VFW dance. They were married after a three-month courtship.
The family settled in Memphis but was soon forced to leave the south when Ed Leach was transferred to Southern California’s Point Mugu naval air station.
They lived in nearby Camarillo, where Leach raised her daughters while her husband did two tours in Vietnam. In one of her early civic experiences, she fought to have streetlights installed, standing on a sidewalk for hours collecting traffic data.
“She was always a tiny bit of a rebel,” her daughter said.
After her husband retired and their children were grown, the Leaches moved north to Windsor in 1992.
She became active in city government, volunteering for committees and helping with the political campaign of Councilwoman Debora Fudge.
When she wasn’t volunteering, she and her husband traveled. They visited far-off places like Russia, China and South Korea, sometimes through a home-exchange program.
She also was an avid dancer. She told her daughter recently that she wanted to be cremated in a pair of red high-heel shoes. It didn’t happen, but the family will place a pair of stiletto-heeled pumps on her altar at her funeral.
Leach had breast cancer twice. She survived both times but suffered continuing respiratory problems. She was in hospice this fall after returning from the hospital with a broken shoulder.
In addition to her husband and daughter, Leach is survived by her two other daughters: Jo Allen of Greenville, South Carolina and Jean Firth of Copperas Cove, Texas. She also is survived by five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Her memorial service is 11 a.m. Saturday at First Congregational United Christ Church in Santa Rosa.
— Paul Payne