Doug Leatherdale, Dressage Horse Owner & Breeder, Dies on 79th Birthday

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Doug and Louise Leatherdale
Doug and Louise Leatherdale

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, Dec. 10, 2015–Douglas West Leatherdale, a philanthropist and former chairman and Chief Executive of the St. Paul Companies and owner and breeder of Hanoverian horses, died Sunday on his 79th birthday after spending the evening with family and friends, his wife, Louise, reported.

“He was an entrepreneur who loved giving back to the communities he lived in, both in Canada as well as here in the Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Louise Leatherdale said of her husband, who sat on the boards of UnitedHealth Group and the Minnesota Orchestra.

He was president of the American Hanoverian Society and operated Leatherdale Farms in Long Lake, Minnesota. He and his wife owned several breeding stallions in Germany.

Canadian rider Diane Creech rode some of his horses for about 15 years as did other riders and he was a supporter of the Canadian equestrian team.

Born on Dec. 6, 1936 in Morden, Manitoba, Doug Leatherdale grew up on a small farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school, and then went on to United College in Winnipeg and then Harvard Business School and the University of California, Berkeley.

The St. Paul Cos. was the city’s largest employer and worth billions of dollars when Doug Leatherdale was its CEO. He led the St. Paul Cos. from 1990 to 2001 before it was sold to Travelers.

He was also a passionate supporter of the Minnesota Orchestra, serving on its board for several years and playing a role in recruiting Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska. Earlier this year, he and his wife donated $5 million to the orchestra to create the Douglas and Louise Leatherdale Music Director Chair in honor of Vanska.

They also made a major gift to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul.