John Franklin Hall, Sr. (82) of St. Peter, Minnesota, died following sudden cardiac arrest while in rehabilitation care at Benedictine Health Services on 30 March 2020.
Born in Washington, D.C., on 29 June 1937, John was the son of Albert G. Hall and Mattie Cathale Neal. John was raised in Washington, D.C., and enjoyed a youth filled with Boy Scout activities and various youthful employments, including lawn-mowing, grocery store bagging, paper routes, and small-time publishing on his father’s printing press, known as “Hall Brothers Printing”. He pursued many of these exploits together with his younger brother, Albert G. Hall, Jr.
John started early as a young professional, following his father’s interest in forestry. When John was 13 years old, his father, who had been the Chief Forester for the American Forestry Association, established a forestry consulting business to assist landowners in managing their forests along the Atlantic coast – from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. During this time, John worked with his father in the forests, running compass lines, hauling paint cans to mark trees for harvesting, and taking endless field notes.
At 18 years of age, John enrolled in the Pennsylvania State University’s School of Forestry. He changed majors from General Forestry to Wood Technology/Forest Products in his sophomore year, owing to his strong interest in mathematics and physics. He also married his first wife, Betty Lou Leapley, during his time at Penn State. Following graduation in 1959, John worked with his father’s organization, while beginning the evening law program at George Washington University School of Law, from which he graduated in 1963.
While working for his father’s company, John took a 6-month temporary assignment with one of their clients, the National Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, which ended 25 years later with John as Senior Vice-President and Secretary of the by-then National Forest Products Association. John subsequently served as President of the American Preservers’ Institute, and then Executive Vice-President of the American Wood Preservers’ Association, from which he retired in 2003.
An accomplished magician, John never failed to entertain his friends – and torment his children – with a repertoire of hundreds of complex magic tricks. His musical talents were also on display from an early age, from steel guitar and trumpet in his youth, to concertina, piano, and lifelong choral performances until the final years of his life, including, most recently, dutiful service with the Riverblenders of Mankato, Minnesota.
Following his own active youth in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, John was also active in Scouting as an adult, serving as a Scoutmaster for several Scout troops. He additionally coached girls’ youth softball, and supported each of his children in their athletic and avocational pursuits.
John was married three times during his life, and he raised three children. He was first married to Betty Lou Leapley for 35 years; then to Mary L. Hauck for 19 years, until her passing in 2010. In 2011, John reconnected with a high school colleague, Ruth E. Scheibel, to whom he was married and with whom he lived in St. Peter, Minnesota, until her passing in 2019.
John was preceded in death by his parents, his second wife, Mary L. Hauck, and his third wife, Ruth Elise Scheibel.
John is remembered by his brother, Albert G. Hall, Jr, and his wife Margaret; his first wife, Betty Lou Leapley, and by his adoring children: his daughter, Catherine Ann Brown and her children, Robert, Jessica, and Melissa; his son, John F. Hall, Jr., and wife, Malgorzata, and their son, Jan K. Babiuch-Hall; and his second daughter, Jennifer L. Munson, and her husband, Jeffrey, along with their children, Tyler and Connor.
John will be interred next to his second wife, Mary L. Hauck, in Maryland. Memorial services will be planned at an appropriate time. Contributions may be made to the St. Peter Area Food Shelf, the Mankato Riverblenders, First Lutheran Church of St. Peter, Minnesota, or your favorite charity.