Samuel A. Hall
August 12, 1915 -- December 18, 2013
Samuel Alphonso Hall died at home with family on December 18, 2013. He was 98. “Farmer, Soldier, Father, Judge” and “Truth, Hope and Faith Guide My Life” are the words he chose for his headstone, but Integrity is the one word that captures the man, his character and life. Sam was a devoted husband to the love of his life, Jeanie Margaret Trice Hall, who preceded him in death April 4, 2002, with Sam by her side. They were married fifty eight years. He was an equally devoted father, teaching life’s lessons to their six sons and then to grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Dignity, humility and graciousness in dying was his final lesson in life.
Sam Hall was born August 12, 1915, on a homestead near Higley, Arizona. He grew up in and near Fresno, California, the fifth of six brothers and sisters. Responsibility and work ethic were established early in life. By age twelve, Sam had earned and saved enough from selling newspapers on a street corner to buy his first suit. His youth was spent working to help support the family and by age twenty he had already worked years of manual labor on farms and in vineyards and packing plants. He dug canals with a blade pulled by a two or four horse team. He worked in the woods with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Sam stood six feet, five inches tall, always with straight posture, shoulders square, a firm handshake and a thirty six/seven inch reach. He became a competitive boxer, fighting in the Diamond Belt championships (he would later teach his children the fundamentals of boxing). Sam made an impression few people would forget.
In 1935, Sam moved to Portland and began working for Purdy Paint Brush Company in St. Johns. He was still helping to support his mother and stepfather. He became a leader in his union. In 1937, Sam began attending night law school at Northwestern College of Law after work each day. His was the last entering class eligible to attend with only a high school diploma. Sam attributed his desire to become a lawyer to some of the current events of his youth, but specifically credited a high school agriculture teacher who also taught and encouraged public speaking. Samuel Alphonso Hall was admitted to the Oregon bar September, 1941 (OSB 410230) and remained a member until his death.
Sam’s first few months of law practice in Portland were halted by World War II. Like many others, Sam closed his law practice and joined the Army. While stationed at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida, Sam met Jeanie through a dinner invitation. Jeanie was teaching grammar school and was a daughter of a prominent Tampa pioneer family. Sam and Jeanie wrote each other almost daily for the two years Sam was overseas, including his proposal and her acceptance of marriage. Sam gained the rank of Diamond First Sergeant and was decorated, including the Bronze Star, for the beach invasion of North Africa at Oran, Algeria and the battles for the Kasserine Pass, the invasion of Sicily, and the beach invasion at Salerno, Italy. He was engaged in the battle of Monte Cassino, Italy when told he could go home. Sam and Jeanie were married in her parent’s home in Tampa, Florida, July 5, 1944.
After his discharge in October, 1945 Sam and Jeanie returned to Portland. Sam’s work included the City Attorney’s office and private practice. In 1948, Sam joined the Oregon Attorney General’s office and the family, including two sons, made Salem home. Assigned to litigation, Sam tried cases in almost every, if not every, county in Oregon. He was then appointed to be Statutory Counsel for the State Highway Commission. In early 1951, Sam accepted an invitation to move to Brookings, Oregon, opening a private practice with retainers from local mills and the newly established plywood manufacturing cooperative. His office was on the main floor of the Central Building. His first task was saving the Coop from being shut down, before it even opened, for selling shares without securing any timber contracts to supply the enterprise. He convinced the Attorney General’s office to hold off while timber was secured. A ceremonial piece cut from the plant’s first sheet of plywood was proudly displayed in his office.
Between 1952 and 1960, four more sons were born. Jeanie and Sam loved raising their family in Brookings-Harbor. Sam wore many hats, including as the first City Attorney for the newly incorporated town of Brookings, school board member, District Attorney for Curry County, and in 1960 was elected District Court Judge where he served for twenty years, retiring on Jeanie’s birthday in 1981. Based on an experimental program he read about and studied, Judge Hall pioneered one of the first alternative sentencing programs in Oregon. Even before being elected to the District Court, Sam had served as a Circuit Court judge pro tem and continued to do so while maintaining his district court, returning to preside over trials in Portland, Eugene and Klamath Falls each year. He practiced law one last year in Eugene with son Sam, Jr. before fully retiring in 1982.
In retirement, Sam and Jeanie purchased a motor home. Their travels included visits to family around Oregon and California, and cross country trips to visit family in Tampa, Florida. They wanted for little more than to be with their children and families. One of Sam’s early roles in Brookings-Harbor was to help establish the rural volunteer fire district, serving as its chairman. After retiring from law, Sam returned to the district as a volunteer firefighter where he continued to serve into his early nineties. While still a judge and in his early sixties, Sam was inspired by his youngest son Richard, then a member of the high school cross-country team, to start running; Sam ran in numerous long distance races for over twenty years, including almost all of the Portland Cascade Runoffs, retiring his running shoes in his early eighties. In 2000, Sam and Jeanie were honored as Pioneer Citizens for the annual Brookings-Harbor Azalea Festival.
Samuel A. Hall was a Renaissance man. In addition to being an attorney, trial lawyer and judge, he was well read and knowledgeable in numerous fields and continued to take correspondence courses on varied subjects into his nineties. He was an accomplished carpenter and plumber, building and fixing every type of household project. He was inventive and self-reliant, creating countless tools and gadgets necessary to handle life’s chores. He was an accomplished hunter and gardener and cook. He was a ham-radio operator. Always independent, he was digging ditches and moving yards of gravel by hand also into his nineties. He was a gentleman. He was a role model and inspiration for generations of family and friends.
Sam is survived by his six sons and their families (Sam, Jr, Donna; William; Arthur, Charlotte; Nelson, Patti; Edward, Colette; Richard, Gayle), 17 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, 12 great-great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews in Oregon, California and Florida.
A memorial service is scheduled for, at the Harbor Water District/Fire Hall, 98069 Benham Lane, Harbor, Oregon.