Hugh Leach became the second president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on March 12, 1936, and retired on February 28, 1961.
Born in 1894 in Richmond, Virginia, Leach earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia. After graduating in 1917, he took a job as a bookkeeper and office manager of a New York Produce Exchange firm before enlisting in the air service of the US Army as a flying cadet during World War I. He returned to Richmond after the war, became a certified public accountant and worked for two years with the local office of F.W. LaFrentz and Company. Leach joined the Richmond Fed in 1920 as a clerk. A year later he became assistant auditor and in 1922 was named auditor.
When the Richmond Fed decided to establish its Charlotte branch in 1927, Leach was selected to organize and head the new office. He remained in Charlotte until 1931, when he became managing director of the Baltimore office, which had opened in 1918. At the request of Eugene Meyer, then the chair of the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Leach received an eight-month leave of absence in 1932 from the Richmond Fed to help organize the RFC, serving as its first treasurer. In 1936, Leach returned to Richmond as first vice president and twelve days later was named president following George Seay’s retirement.
Leach was regarded as one of the nation’s shrewdest students of monetary policy. From 1942 to 1943, he served as chairman of the War Finance Committee of the Fifth Federal Reserve District, an organization of commercial and investment bankers that successfully conducted several campaigns for the sale of government securities during World War II. For eleven years during his presidency, he served as a member of the five-man investment committee for the Federal Reserve Retirement System, which had assets of more than $250 million.
Throughout his career, Leach remained active in many civic, educational and community activities. He served on the board of visitors of the Medical College of Virginia, the board of counselors of the Evening School of the University of Richmond, and the board of trustees of the Richmond Area Community Chest. He taught night courses in accounting for the American Institute of Banking and Virginia Mechanics Institute. He was president of the Country Club of Virginia and was active in the University of Virginia, serving as president of both the Richmond Chapter and National Alumni Associations.
Leach and his wife, Marian, lived in Richmond. He had one son and one stepson. Leach died in 1971.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. See disclaimer.