By  on October 18, 2011

Harold “Hal” Leppo, a former president of Lord & Taylor who was instrumental in the chain’s expansion from a regional to a national operation in the Eighties, died Oct. 14 at home in Stamford, Conn., succumbing to cancer, according to the family. Leppo was 74.

Leppo worked for Lord & Taylor for ten years, until 1987, always as president and chief operating officer. He left the store shortly after it was taken over by May Department Stores via its acquisition of L&T’s then parent Associated Dry Goods. At the time, he acknowledged the difficulties arising when one retail conglomerate takes over another, but he remained enthusiastic and involved for years after, serving as a mentor and adviser to many retail and wholesale executives. He also served on several boards and, for a time, worked along with other retired retail executives in the consulting practice of Financo Inc. His son, Daniel, is a vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s wear at Bloomingdale’s.

In addition to rolling out Lord & Taylor stores around the country, “My Dad always loved and grew the men’s wear business,” said Daniel.

Leppo entered retailing right after graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1959. The five-foot, six-inch, 140-pound Leppo used his sense of humor to help him land his first retail job, when he met a Filene’s recruiter, a former linebacker from the University of Massachusetts, and told him he played defensive line in college. “He always said that’s how he began in retailing,” Daniel noted.

Leppo entered the Filene’s training program, rose through the buying ranks to senior vice president and general merchandise manager and at times ran the men’s wear and Filene’s Basement divisions. In 1977, he left Filene’s to join Lord & Taylor. After L&T, he had a brief stint as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Allied Stores Inc.

Aside from his son, Daniel, Leppo is survived by his wife, Elaine; his daughter, Sara, and three granddaughters.

Funeral services were held at Temple Sinai in Stamford, Conn. on Monday. In lieu of flowers, the family requested a donation in his honor to the West End House Camp for boys, a nonprofit camp in Maine, or the Lung Cancer Research Fund, c/o Dr. Mark B. Stoopler, at Columbia University Medical Center.

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