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Resident Spotlight: Leila H.

Woodlands resident Leila H. was born and raised in 1939 in Richmond, VA. She attended the all-female St. Catherine’s Episcopal School as a teenager, while also working as a tour guide at the L+M Cigarette factory. Her job was to pull back the curtain on how cigarettes were made and share with many a curious visitor.

After high school, Leila attended Bradford College in Boston then transferred her junior year to the University of North Carolina, a school that holds a very special place in her heart to this day. She’s a true Tar Heel! Leila was one of few women students there at the time; in fact, there was a male to female ratio of only 5:1. She earned her bachelor’s with 2 minors in Political Science and Art History.

As a young woman ready to take on the world, Leila set her sights on a self-guided tour of Europe. She briefly moved home to Richmond to save money, then crossed the pond with her close friend Betty. The two were keen on exploring and experiencing new, unfamiliar parts of the world to expand their horizons. What was meant to be a 4-week trip turned into a 4-month adventure. The duo visited each and every museum they could find and befriended as many locals as possible along the way – including, notably, a real matador in Spain.

Upon her return Stateside, Leila was eager to begin her career in a big city, so she chose to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. As part of a Congressional committee, she and a few others worked closely together behind the scenes. One particular project required  assistance from the Navy, so Leila reached out, only to have a young man named Bill respond, “complaining loudly” about all the extra work she was asking of him. Eventually, she was able to get the bill passed – and marry Bill while she was at it! The couple went on to raise two lovely children, Stuart and Patricia.

During their marriage, Bill gifted Leila her very first camera. With it she enrolled in photography classes at Glen Echo Park as well as the Maine Photographic Workshop, one of the top photography schools in the country. Her talent landed her a position with Starwood Publication making weekly calendars featuring scenes from DC. Her specialization was in architecture and landscapes.

After Bill passed and Leila courageously beat colon cancer, she moved to Kensington Park. She says that she “could not imagine a better or more loving place” and feels incredibly fortunate to be here. We are just as fortunate, Leila! Thank you for sharing your kindness and many talents with us.