T. Hartley Hall IV ’51

On August 18, 2016, the Reverend Dr. Thomas Hartley Hall IV died in Asheville, NC. He was 87 years old.

Mr. Hall was born in Macon, Georgia on July 1, 1929, the only child of Thomas H. “Jack” Hall, III and Mildred Baird Hall. He attended Lanier High School in Macon. A natural leader, Hartley served as President of Key Club International and Cadet Lieutenant Colonel for the Junior ROTC.

Mr. Hall graduated cum laude from Davidson College in 1951, was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and served as Commanding Officer of the ROTC.

He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army, Infantry Division, in the Korean War, and was a Platoon Leader, Company Commander and Headquarters Commandant for the 32nd Infantry Regiment. Mr. Hall was awarded a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Silver Star for gallantry in action.

After returning from Korea, Mr. Hall attended Union Theological Seminary (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond, Virginia, graduating cum laude in 1957.

During his time at Union, Mr. Hall was staff photographer for the American School of Oriental Research in Israel and Jordan as part of an archeological expedition that located the biblical city of Gibeon. He was awarded a scholarship to Yale Divinity School, receiving an STM degree in 1958.

Mr. Hall was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and for the next 23 years served in pastorates at First Congregational Church in Branford, CT, as Presbyterian Chaplain at NC State University, at First Presbyterian Church in Lenoir, NC, First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, TX and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN.

Mr. Hall then served as President of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, from 1981 to 1994, when he retired to Asheville, NC. He received honorary doctorate degrees from both Davidson College and Austin College. Mr. Hall was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati and a longtime member of Sam’s Club.

Mr. Hall is survived by his four children, Aurie Hall (Marcy Wilder) of Washington, DC, Grace Hall (Kathy Theoharis) of Asheville, NC, Hartley Hall (Carolyn Griffin Hall) of Nashville, TN and Leigh Hall (Michael Smith) of Carrboro, NC, and his six grandchildren, Ellis and Graham Wilder, Nicholas Hall, Grace Hall and Emma and Walker Smith. He was married from 1957 to 1997 to Ann Hartzog Hall, currently of Black Mountain, NC.

T. Hartley Hall was a man of singular intellect and Calvinist sensibility. He had boundless intellectual curiosity and an irrepressible, irreverent sense of humor. His engaging conversations could range from religious and theological issues to canning recipes; and from history and politics to the recent discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Mr. Hall established long lasting and rewarding friendships with a wide range of people who became family to him. He will be deeply missed by those who knew him well.

For many years, Mr. Hall has supported the Verner Center for Early Learning in Asheville, NC, where he established a scholarship fund for the children of single, working mothers.

Donations can be made in Mr. Hall’s honor to the Verner Center for Early Learning, vernerearlylearning.org, Davidson College, davidson.edu, or Union Presbyterian Seminary, upsem.edu.

Published in Tennessean from Aug. 20 to Aug. 22, 2016

One Reply to “T. Hartley Hall IV ’51”

  1. As you may know, our father, T. Hartley Hall IV died on August 18. At his memorial service, one of the topics of conversation was the blessing Dad gave at the Davidson Alumni Luncheon in 2001, his 50th (and my 25th) reunion. In many circles, this blessing has become something of a legend. We wanted to share it with the Alumni Office, to preserve this small piece of Davidson lore.

    First, you must imagine the prayer given in Dad’s deep, sonorous voice. It begins as a classic prayer and then morphs into one that only Dad could have delivered. At the time, you could see bowed heads popping up and looking around to see if their ears were deceiving them. All in all, it was quite an event and one those gathered will always remember. And it was classic Dad, poking fun at people or institutions that might be inclined to take themselves too seriously.

    Davidson always held a very special place in Dad’s heart, which probably accounts for the fact that 3 out of his 4 children attended the College. This is just one example of what makes Davidson a special place.

    Best wishes,

    Aurie Hall, ’81
    Hartley Hall, ’85
    Leigh Hall, ’90

    Alumni Luncheon Prayer; A.D. 2001

    Almighty God, we bless you for this college, and for its enduring capacity to touch and shape the lives of young women and men for good. We thank you for the impress of its character on each one of us, and for the persons it has enabled each of us to become.

    By your Spirit, we pray, let Davidson continue to be a useful instrument in the service of your Kingdom. And to this end, deliver its faculty and administrators from every insidious form of academic arrogance, saving them from the damning assumption that being smart is the same thing as being good.

    And deliver us, its alumni, from the self-serving notion that being successful is the same as being faithful. And for each proficient, competent, achieving one of us gathered here, do especially forgive all those virtues which mislead even faithful folk into deceptive convictions of self-righteousness.

    With deep gratitude, we recall those classmates whose presence once enriched our college years, but who have not lived to join us for these reunions today. Though they be absent in body, we would nonetheless reach out to include them in this present fellowship, as they yet live in our minds and hearts, and memories.

    From among the many classes gathered here today, we ask a special measure of Divine grace for the dogged survivors of the Class of 1951. It surely, 0 Lord, is not their fault that time, circumstance, fate, Providence and Divine Election conspired to make of them perhaps the finest class ever to stumble through Davidson College — so that from their earliest days on campus an appropriate, creaturely humility has proven itself a remarkably elusive goal for any one of them.

    Yet, even at this eleventh hour of their earthly sojourn, 0 Lord, open their minds and hearts, we pray, to the possibility of setting aside the quite justifiable pride-of-place they claim in the great procession of Davidson graduates.

    And now, we thank you — 0, Heavenly Father — for this meal, though it in fact be only a cold, boxed-lunch — dearly priced and bought, but marginal fare indeed for a gathering as auspicious as this one. True, that since that long-ago graduation we all seem to have added unneeded pounds.

    Still, an administration more sensitive and less penurious just might be led to follow a Divine call to indulge its loyal sons and daughters in a fashion more akin to the nature and extent in which it hopes to share in their prosperity and largesse.

    We bless you, 0 Lord, for the graciousness that has sustained us and brought us, with this our beloved school, to this day and this place, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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