Leigh Ann Moreau

Leigh Ann Moreau, 21; credo: 'follow your heart'

If you knew her, you loved her.

The fact that she was loved by all is what set 21-year-old Leigh Ann Moreau apart, her family and friends say.

It may have been the radiant, infectious smile that initially drew the many, many people she counted among her friends.

Or the way she lived her life with passion, urging others to "follow your heart." It was by that credo that Leigh Ann lived her life, said her mother, Jean. Even when her family disagreed with some of her choices, Leigh Ann would gently remind them that she had to follow her heart. As a testament to her belief in that motto, Leigh Ann had a tattoo on her lower back of Chinese symbols that expressed the phrase.

Leigh Ann -- who was known affectionately as Leigh Lu, Leigh-Leigh, Leigh Ro or just Leigh -- lived many years in Pawtucket and moved to Stadden Street in Providence in 1989. She attended Our Lady of Consolation School in Pawtucket, St. Patrick School in Providence and Classical High School, where she made the honor roll.

Last December, she received her bachelor's degree in art therapy from Springfield College, in Springfield, Mass.; she would have received her diploma in ceremonies this spring.

She had already applied to and been accepted by several graduate schools, her family said.

Leigh Ann planned to pursue a career in art therapy. She dreamed of helping to heal people with physical or mental ailments by encouraging them to express themselves through art.

A dark-haired young woman and middle child, Leigh Ann lived the way she painted -- truly and vibrantly, with deep appreciation for the simplicity and beauty of life, her family said.

While art therapy was her chosen career, her love for the arts took many forms, including that of music.

Last summer, she celebrated Bob Dylan's return to the Newport Folk Festival by attending the event with another Dylan fan -- her father, Richard.

"It was through her love of music that she truly connected with those whom she loved," Jean Moreau said.

Leigh Ann had gone to The Station nightclub with a group of friends, only some of whom survived the fire.

Her family believes that Leigh Ann remains with them, in another form.

"Every time you hear a dog bark, a bird chirp or some random critter scurry, you will know she is there, helping that critter through whatever woes it is experiencing, just as she will continue to do with all of us," her mother said.

-- Karen A. Davis, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003