June Frost Leland
Philanthropy and Community Service
June Frost Leland was an exceptional individual with many varied interests. As a young girl, she could not have imagined that one day she would be a Hardin-Simmons University White Horse Rider and ultimately make the largest financial donation to her alma mater in Hardin-Simmons’ history.
June Sloan Frost was born in 1919 in Breckenridge, Texas to Fred and Juanita Frost. Fred was an attorney involved in oil and gas, and June inherited his keen mind and interest in business and law. She attended primary school in San Antonio and the family moved to Abilene where she attended high school and Hardin-Simmons University.
At Hardin-Simmons, June was involved in many activities, which included riding one of the famous Six White Horses and representing the University at events from coast to coast. She liked to talk of her experiences meeting political figures and celebrities while traveling for HSU. She graduated in 1940 with degrees in secondary education and English.
Along with her mother, June was active in social circles and often traveled from Abilene to Dallas for events and shopping. During WWII, June worked, as did many women, at a defense plant in the Fort Worth area. While in Fort Worth, June promoted both amateur and professional golf tournaments and even played a round at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth with the legendary Ben Hogan. She was also an avid bridge player and accomplished angler.
From a young age, June, her friends and family traveled to Ruidoso, New Mexico in the summer-months and she would later move there in the mid-1950s. An avid equestrian, young June led horseback tours in Ruidoso’s mountains and the Mescalero Apache Reservation. She became a charter member of the Ruidoso Jockey Club and was a lifelong fan of horse racing, continuing to attend races until shortly before her passing.
After a brief time back in Abilene, June married Cy Leland, Jr. with whom she shared a love of travel and sports, often traveling to Dallas Cowboy and Texas Tech Red Raider games as well as the games of other teams across the country. The Lelands moved to Lubbock, Texas, and later to Estes Park, Colorado, also maintaining a home in Hawaii where Mrs. Leland learned the Hawaiian language and took Hula dance classes. Wherever she lived, Mrs. Leland was active in the community and involved with several charities.
In 1990, after Cy’s death, June Frost Leland moved back to Ruidoso, where she resided with her adored cat, Ginger. In Ruidoso, she was active in church and the Women’s Club, worked as a volunteer at Lincoln County Medical Center and contributed generously to local and national charities. Mrs. Leland’s charitable activity also included the establishment of The June Frost Wildlife Foundation, an organization that operates a preserve for the endangered Prairie Chicken and other plains wildlife on her land in Yoakum County, Texas.
After her death, Hardin-Simmons University was notified that June Frost Leland had bequeathed a large gift to her beloved alma mater. That gift totaled more than $9 million and which still stands today as the largest financial gift to Hardin-Simmons in the institution’s 130-year history. Each year, outstanding students in the Honors Program are designated as Leland Scholars. These students are grateful beneficiaries of Mrs. Leland’s amazing generosity.
For her life accomplishments and for her exceedingly generous support of her alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University proudly and gratefully inducts June Frost Leland into the HSU Hall of Leaders.