High Prairie Arts & Science Complex
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Tom & Frances Leach Foundation Support

Leach Foundation 50 Years


To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tom & Frances Leach Foundation, the High Prairie Arts & Science Complex was adopted as a signature project, and provided a generous contribution toward the capital campaign for the new facility. Subsequently, the name of our facility changed to "Frances Leach High Prairie Arts & Science Complex" to honor a grand lady.

Portrait of Frances Leach
"What could you do more fascinating than to give your talents to youth, because they carry on?"
Frances Leach
Born Frances Van Valkenburgh Land on June 28, 1902, she was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Levin K. Land. She received her early education in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where her father practiced dentistry. After graduation from Millersburg College in Kentucky and the Emerson School of Drama in Boston, she taught for one year in her home town. It was here that her friendship with Thomas W. Leach blossomed into romance. They were married October 28, 1925, while Frances was a reporter for the St. Louis Times.

From then on, her life was entwined with that of her husband's. Tom considered Frances his partner in all his business ventures and named her as a director in four of them. Mr. Leach's geological interest in the Williston Basin and his persistent search for oil, eventually brought them to North Dakota, where he opened an office in Bismarck in 1941. Mrs. Leach shared in his pride and joy when following his theory; Amerado Petroleum Corporation discovered oil at the Clarence Iverson #1 Well on April 4, 1951, which was proclaimed the first major producing oil well in North Dakota.

Leach Foundation Logo
Husband and wife were continually interested in helping others less fortunate. To perpetuate that interest, they established a private, non-profit foundation in 1955 to provide charitable grants in support of worthwhile endeavors and to follow its mission of promoting public welfare with private means. When Tom died in 1966, Frances filled the void of his absence by continuing in the couple's tradition of generous giving through her work and philanthropy with educational scholarships, the arts, health and human services. Frances was an active participant in many of the programs she sponsored, "There is so much joy and satisfaction to be gained by seeing what your help does for others." She served as president of the Tom and Frances Leach Foundation, Inc. for 15 years, from 1966 until her death October 2, 1981.

To learn more about the Tom and Frances Leach Foundation, visit their website.