Class of 2008
When Bailey Leopard was in eighth grade at Athens High School, he started writing basketball and baseball stories for the semi-weekly Athens newspapers about Athens and Limestone County teams.
"I began covering football in the fall and would either write a story at home on a portable typewriter or go to the newspaper on Saturday morning and use a typewriter," he said. "I worked fulltime after school and during summers for five years. I wrote all the short stuff, such as church announcements, obits, police and sheriff reports. I would do one or two features a week and would write headlines for stories and made pictures." In July 1955, Leopard began a position on the copy desk at the Birmingham Post-Herald.
He was one of six people who read and corrected wire copy and staff written copy. He also wrote headlines and photo captions for each article.
"The newspaper published four editions a day except Sunday," he said. "After 15 months, I was offered a sports writing position. I covered football, basketball, track and baseball of the "Big Five"(all in the city) high school teams, plus Birmingham-Southern College and Samford University (Howard College at the time). In 1958, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and his entourage came from Texas A&M to start his 25 years as head coach of Alabama football.
"In looking back, I was a writer who was exposed to two distinctly different Alabama grid coaches - J.B. "Ears" Whitworth, who succeeded Harold "Red" Drew (45-28-7 in eight seasons), went 4-24-2 in three seasons. Bryant's record was 189-40-9. I was a member of the sports team that covered Alabama football and Auburn basketball. I also covered automobile racing and on Saturday nights during the summer would announce the races for Dixie Speedway. I covered two NASCAR races each year at Fairgrounds Speedway," he said.
Leopard later worked the evening shift on the sports staff at the newspaper in Augusta, Ga. He did that while taking a six-months Army National Guard training course at Fort Gordon.
"I ran the desk while the sports editor and assistant sports editor covered college football at Georgia, Georgia Tech and South Carolina," he recalled.
Leopard returned to Athens a short time later as editor of the semi-weekly Limestone Democrat and Alabama Courier, which at that time had a circulation of 4,000.
He was there three years and during that tenure, won several top awards in the highly competitive Alabama Press Association for weekly newspapers. He also won an award from the Alabama Medical Association for a series of articles he did on pit toilets (privies).
He went on to become the editor of The Record, an employee publication with 2,000 employees on Redstone Arsenal and worked at Brown Engineering Corp. where he was the manager of corporate communications, responsible for news and feature stories.
He joined the Noble-Dury Public Relations firm in Nashville, Tenn. as president and in 1973 started the Williamson Leader, a newspaper in Williamson. He operated the newspaper until 1998. The newspaper served Franklin and Williamson County. Franklin had a population of 5,500 and Williamson County 34,000 when the paper started. Today, Franklin has a population of 47,000 and the county 160,781 people.
While he was there, the newspaper won many awards from the state press association, including one for his column "Leopard Spots." He also received the Tennessee Education Association award for three years for a series entitled "Teacher of the Week."
Leopard is married to Lavelle McCain Leopard and they have three children, Louise L. Wachsman, Rebecca Dawn Leopard, and Bailey Leopard Jr.