Barbara A. Hall, longtime GBMC volunteer

She had accumulated more than 13,000 volunteer hours

  • Barbara Hall
Barbara Hall (Baltimore Sun )
August 21, 2012|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Barbara A. Hall, a former secretary who was a longtime volunteer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, died Sunday of pneumonia at St. Joseph Medical Center. She was 92.

The daughter of a high school principal and a homemaker, the former Barbara Abbott was born in Fort Fair, Maine, and in 1926 moved with her family to Providence, R.I., where she graduated in 1937 from Hope Street High School.

She was a 1941 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where she earned a bachelor's degree in European history.

After teaching school for a year in Bryant Pond, Maine, where her annual salary was $900, Mrs. Hall moved to Boston and enrolled at Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School, from which she graduated in 1945.

She was working as a secretary in the dean's office at Harvard College when she was promoted to house secretary at Harvard's Kirkland House.

Mrs. Hall was sitting at her typewriter on her first day of work in her new job when a handsome World War II veteran, Richard Leland Hall, who was about to begin graduate studies, walked through the door.

"She said, 'He took me off the shelf,'" said a daughter, Nancy Abbott Cooper of Wilmington, Del.

The couple married in 1948 and remained at Harvard, where her husband earned his doctorate in organic chemistry.

In 1950, they moved to Rodgers Forge when Dr. Hall was hired by McCormick & Co. The couple later settled on Wellington Court in Stoneleigh, where they lived for many years, before moving in 2000 to the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson.

Mrs. Hall delivered her three daughters at the old Hospital for the Women of Maryland on Bolton Hill. After its 1965 merger with the Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital that created Greater Baltimore Medical Center, she began volunteering at the new hospital.

"She was one of our founding volunteers and she also gave her time to the Nearly New Sale, which started before there was a GBMC," said Cynthia Fager, who is director of volunteers at the Towson hospital. "She started in 1965 when the hospital opened, and remained active until 2008."

Ms. Fager said that during that time, Mrs. Hall had accumulated more than 13,000 volunteer hours.

"That is an amazing gift," she said. "Anyone who gives 43 years volunteering is just an amazing individual."

Mrs. Hall worked in patient care at Unit 36 and also at the twice-a-year Nearly New Sale, where she earned the sobriquet the "Shoe Lady," because she organized and sold shoes.

"The Nearly New Sale raises more than $250,000 a year, which goes directly to patient care," said Ms. Fager.

"Barbara was wonderful, delightful and so pleasant. She was interesting and had a great sense of humor," said Dolores W. Bolte, who volunteered at GBMC with Mrs. Hall for 40 years. "She was so well-rounded and always a pleasure to be around. I am so sorry that we have lost her."

She said that volunteers described Mrs. Hall as a "lovely lady who was very special and always willing to pitch in, no matter what the job was."

Mrs. Hall also remained actively involved with Bates College, serving as a member of its board and alumni president. In 1996, she was presented the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

She served as secretary for the Class of 1941 until her death, and last year had returned to Bates for her 70th reunion.

A philanthropic interest of Mrs. Hall and her husband was the Abbott-Hall Scholarship Fund that had been established by her father.

Mrs. Hall also volunteered as block captain for the Heart Fund and the American Cancer Society. Earlier, she had been an assistant Girl Scout leader and had been cookie chairman at the Ridge School.

Mrs. Hall nurtured her Maine roots by summering every year on Georges Pond in Franklin, Maine.

She also liked shelling at Sanibel Island, Fla., gardening, and listening to big-band music. She was a cat fancier.

Mrs. Hall was a member of Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 31.

In addition to her husband of 63 years, a retired McCormick & Co. vice president, and her daughter, Mrs. Hall is survived by two other daughters, Elizabeth Hall Ottinger of Baltimore and Ann Hall Dorr of Sunderland, Mass.; and five grandchildren.

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