Virgil R. Hall, 65, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Sept. 26, 2008, at his home in Moses Lake, Wash. Virgil was born Oct. 26, 1942, in Tacoma, Wash., the oldest child of Roy and Leora Bullard Hall. When he was very young, the family moved to Montana and lived in various areas before settling in Great Falls.
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In his 20-plus years as the sign maker in Yellowstone National Park, Virgil produced thousands of the Park's signature hand-routed wooden signs. He created many retirement arrowheads for park staff, and special plaques for dignitaries, heads of the Department of the Interior, and handed them personally to former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. As a wood craftsman he loved the challenge of routing free-hand, the graceful outline of a cutthroat or the challenges of routing text onto a 15-inch diameter log that was later flown into the back-country to mark an important historical survey point.
An annual highlight in the sign shop was the visit of local kindergarteners, who were allowed to lay out their own name sign, watch Virgil rout it, and then leave with this treasured gift. Virgil, in turn, treasured the wonderful pictures, drawings and thank you notes from each child.
He was truly an accomplished craftsman and has left his mark on Yellowstone for many years to come. Virgil retired from the National Park Service in 2005 after 31 years of service.
One relationship which was central to Virgil's life on this earth was the one he enjoyed with his loving wife, Madeline. They met in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo., in 1967 and were married Dec. 6, 1969. Their only child, Jeffrey Scott, was born in 1971. Virgil loved his son deeply and was so proud of him. Virgil was lucky enough to have three grandchildren, Kelsey Mae, Jeffrey Jacob and Hudson Reed, who were a source of much joy to him. Virgil also had many close friends over the years and cared deeply for all of them to the day he joined his Lord and Savior.
Virgil loved Montana, two Daschunds who he called "the girls," seeing his grandchildren, planting trees, teasing and joking around, old cars, his 1988 Honda Accord, scary movies, and last but certainly not least Pepsi.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Virgil is survived by his wife of 38 years, Madeline (Walisch) Hall of Moses Lake, Wash.; his son, Jeff and wife, Amy and his three grandchildren of Columbus; brother, Gary and wife, Lora of Hillsboro, Ore.; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Celebration of Life was held in Yellowstone National Park by his "Yellowstone Family" on Oct. 23, 2008.
He was loved by all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 25, 2008