Robert Lee Hall, 86, born April 22, 1926, passed away peacefully late in the evening of Jan. 28, 2013.
Some of his last words were, "Just about done. I told Suzy, time to park it in the yard."
He was staying with family in Whitesboro, Texas. All of his seven children had visited him in the last few months, and family was with him that evening.
He was preceded in death in March 2012 by his wife of 63 years, Suzanne S. Hall, who loved him dearly.
Rob was born in Anchorage, while his parents, John B. "Dixie" Hall and Esther Oliver Hall, were living in Nenana. Esther traveled to Anchorage so that the famed "dog sled doctor," Dr. Romig, could attend to the birth.
The family, including older brother Barbee, moved to Bethel where Dixie was an agent for the Northern Commercial Company, when Rob was very young. They lived there until Rob was 7, when they moved to Fairbanks. Rob attended school in Fairbanks from second grade through high school and then attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
As a young boy, he worked at garages where his duties included driving a tow truck at age 12, and later driving trucks to and from Valdez as a teenager. He joined the Navy during his senior year of high school, and after graduation, traveled throughout the United States, enjoying many wonderful experiences including sharing a table with Doris Day, who was singing with the Glen Miller Band in Chicago, spending time in Houma and New Orleans, and attending school at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. He also attended college in Pullman, Wash.
He returned to Alaska and, in 1948, married Suzanne Schmidt after a December drive with his friends, the Shaneyfelt brothers, from Fairbanks to Pittsburgh, where Suzanne's family lived.
Mom and Dad enjoyed an extended honeymoon drive across the United States before heading back to Fairbanks. Mom and Dad established many special traditions just for the two of them: "coffee time" after dinner each night, rides "around the block" and Dad's frequent gift of a Hershey bar for Mom.
Rob worked as the office manager at Golden Valley Electric Association for many years. During that time, six of his seven children were born. In 1963, he visited California and decided to relocate there. Eventually, our "California baby" was born to complete the family.
Rob worked for the State of California, primarily for the Department of Transportation. On the day he retired, many people commented on how much they appreciated his concern and consideration for them on both a personal and professional level. Wherever Dad went, things were always better.
As children in the family moved back to Alaska, Dad and Mom started spending summers in Fairbanks, and after retirement bought their "pink house" downtown from Dad's fifth-grade teacher, Rosamond Weller.
Dad was fond of many things - philosophical discussions, small children, red and white striped mints, the 40 acres just off Farmers Loop, nuts, coffee, ice cream, reading, and a good joke. He loved music and exposed us all to Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Mr. Acker Bilk, Frank Sinatra and many other great musicians. His appreciation for a wide range of music made him the "cool dad" since he would join us in listening to everything from the Beatles to Janis Joplin.
Growing up in Alaska, he believed in carefully conserving building materials and anything that might be useful in the future. He made many trips to the "platform" and his family was often the recipients of "found objects" that Dad felt were too good to pass up. On several occasions, he brought things back to us that we had just disposed of!
He never owned a new car, but would buy one and repair it so that we could take family trips. He never understood getting rid of something that could be fixed. He loved working on the property, tinkering with his large equipment and making plans for what to do there next, although that had been curtailed after a fall off the roof of one of his buildings.
He had a sense of the ridiculous and made wry comments or just gave us "the look" when he found something amusing. He enjoyed striking up conversations with anyone he met. He was unfailingly polite and took pride in being cheerful up until the very end of his life. His personal code was the Golden Rule. He was a lifetime member of the Pioneers of Alaska.
He felt great responsibility for his large family and repeatedly said how lucky he was to have a family that loved each other and were all doing well.
He is survived by daughter, Jenny Hall and husband John Love in Whitesboro, Texas; daughter, Sarah Hall and husband Lee Weaver in Bakersville, N.C.; son, John Barbee Hall and wife Debra in Fairbanks,; daughter, Felicity Hall and husband Stan Tyree in Fairbanks; son, Louis Bijou Hall and wife Sue in Fairbanks; son, Jasper Robertson Hall and wife Eva in Anchorage, and daughter, Esther Stoessel in Sacramento, Calif.
Dad had 13 grandchildren: Suzanne (Matt Jones), Haven (Jon Leavitt), Katie, Elizabeth (Brian Solis), Julia, Thomas, Robert, Rachael, Sarah, Adrienne, Ben, Alena, Ryan, and honorary granddaughter, Ana Carrasco. Dad looked forward to the arrival of his first great-grandchild, Elaina Lynn Solis, who was born Feb. 12.
Others he counted among his children were JoAnne Payan, Janice Jacobson, Patty (Gladney) DaPrato and Terri Young. In addition, he is survived by his nephews, Tom Hall (Louise), Jared Hall (Virgene), great-nephew, Diarmid, niece, Karen Nelson (Frank), sister-in-law, Ethel Hall, and long time friends, Howard and Betty Shaneyfelt, Dick and Jo Scott, and his loving and loyal friend since childhood, Jerry Nerland.
He was also preceded in death by his brother, John Barbee Hall and sister-in-law, Helen Hall, as well as his parents.
Family members plan to congregate at Eagle Summit this summer to celebrate Rob's life.