Richard ‘Harold’ Hall, 85, of Watkinsville, GA, passed away Tues., Feb. 11, 2020 following a battle with Alzheimer’s.
Harold was born to James William (Bill) Hall and Eula Kirkland Hall at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Nov. 24, 1934. He attended Hapeville High School where he was active in track, football and was student body president his senior year.
After graduating in 1953, Harold attended Davidson College in N.C. where he played some football while majoring in psychology and also as a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.
While at Davidson, his interests turned to radio announcing which led to a very deep interest in theater. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he enlisted in the Army where he served for two years.
Following his military service, he studied at the University of Alabama, majoring in speech in the master’s program. Following his master’s work, he went to work as a recruiter for the former State Merit System in Atlanta where he traveled the South, visiting colleges and universities, to bring in a new generation of talent to run our state government.
He would eventually go on to become the Director of recruitment, testing, and placement for the Merit System, retiring in 1992 after 34 years.
Just prior to joining the Merit System, Harold became involved in the Atlanta theater scene where he quickly became a rising star due to his natural talent for immersing himself in his many characters. What really set him a part from most others was his ability to make the audience believe he WAS the character, forcing the audience to suspend their disbelief. He also appeared in many local commercials and modeled men’s clothing in ads for Muse’s and Zachary’s.
Harold appeared in hundreds of plays, performing for theater outfits such as Theater of the Stars, the Alliance Theater, Agnes Scott Colleges’ Blackfriars, DramaTech, Pocket Theater, Academy Theater and for many years, the Underground Theater, under the direction of Dante (Dan) Santacroce.
In the early 1970s, he had his own drama outfit, the Gateway Players, which traveled to other towns to perform for locals that wouldn’t normally see a dramatic production. The Gateway Players also put on plays that dealt with not often talked about social issues, such as racism, alcoholism, child neglect, drug abuse, etc., working with the Atlanta Council on Plays for Living and the Child Service and Family Counseling Center, the precursor for the Department of Family and Children’s Services.
Simultaneously, Harold began attending Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church with his two children, Sherri and David. It wasn’t difficult for the family to become involved with the church because it was such a vibrant part of the city community.
After several years of serving with the Advisory Council, Harold was asked to become a Deacon, a role which deeply humbled him and he was honored to serve the Lord as a church leader.
He taught fifth grade Sunday School for many years, watching children grow into young adults and beyond, some who’ve reached out to share their condolences.
After his time teaching youngsters, he began teaching ‘oldsters’ in the Kingsman Sunday School Bible study.
It was a truly rich time for him as he became very close to the members, seeing them as parents who could also teach the teacher. It could also be a sad time because the class never took in new members and little by little, they passed on.
Harold also appeared, for many years, in Second Ponce’s annual Christmas production ‘The Atlanta Christmas Pageant’ directed by longtime minister of music, John Condra. Harold could really put his dramatic talents to good use for the enjoyment of the thousands of attendees but also for the greater purpose of glorifying God.
Harold was a special person who touched the lives of many, many people for the better. He was a positive force who, above all, was kind to others. He is preceded in death by his former wife and longtime love, Mary Heaton Hall.
He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Sherri Lewis (David), grandchildren, Mr. Adam Wright, Miss Katie Wright and Mr. Jackson Wright. Great-granddaughter, Ryleigh Anne Wright. Son, David Hall (Renee), granddaughter’s, Mrs. Mary Beth Pennington (Colby), Miss Madison Hall. Brother, T.P.Hall (Nancy), nephews, Mr. Michael (Kim) Hall, Mr. Mark (Sebreanna) Hall.
There will be a family graveside burial at Nancy Hart Memorial in Hartwell, Feb. 15th and a memorial service at his home church of Second Ponce de Leon Baptist at a later date.
Lord & Stephens, West, Watkinsville, GA is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com