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John Hale

Obituary Condolences

John Hale Obituary
John Ellis Hale

Passed away peacefully in Marin on April 13, 2013.


John was born in Berkeley, California on January 17, 1927 the youngest of three brothers. His mother, Marion Baldwin Hale had met Madame Montessori on her European trip of 1912 and opened one of the first Montessori preschools which John attended for 2 years. He always attributed this early schooling to his grasp of shape and space which later came in handy as an engineer. His father, William M Hale, was a Vice President of the Federal Reserve. John attended John Muir, Willard Jr High and Berkeley High.


John was trained as an Electrical Engineer with the Navy in WWII on the aircraft carrier Shangri-La. He came home to graduate from UC Berkeley in the tradition as his father, grandfather, brothers Bill and Bob, as well as his cousins Eugenia, Tim and Chris Snyder. He was a member and president of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.


At the beginning of his career he answered an ad for work "building dams in Afghanistan," spending 1951-1954 in Helmand Province as cost estimator, photographer, and paymaster. In 1956 John was hired by Bechtel Corporation. He would eventually travel to more than 90 countries for business and pleasure, and meet his future wife Ethel (Bittey/Stella) of Prescott, Arkansas in Houston. They eloped to Reno and raised their children Kate and Peter in Marin. The Hales moved to London, England from 1971-1976 for a great adventure, with John working at the Hammersmith office for Bechtel. They had the time of their lives traveling all over Europe.


John is preceded in death by Bittey, who passed away in April, 2004. He and Bittey lived life to the fullest, enjoying their grandchildren and wonderful circle of friends. John leaves behind his daughter Kate Hale and her sons Jack and Alec Zeitoun, his son Peter Hale and his wife Frederique Louis and their children Keenan and Tristan Hale, and his niece Jae Anderson. Kate was caretaker for John in his last difficult years living with dementia.


He was an Eagle Scout, played rugby for the Olympic Club, sailed, played squash and golf. He was president of the California Genealogical Society and loved helping friends and family trace their ancestry. John treasured his family and friends and loved meeting new people-his enthusiasm for life was contagious! He was always ready with a smile and a sparkle in his eyes. John had many close calls in his life, including surviving Polio as a child, and a train accident-how fortunate we were to have had the gift of his cheery personality and charm. We will dearly miss him.


A celebration of John's life will be held at his Larkspur home.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 19, 2013
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