(ROCKWALL, TX – March 14, 2019) On Thursday, March 7, Congressman Ralph Moody Hall, a Rockwall native who was the oldest ever member of the U.S. House of Representatives, died peacefully in his home at the age of 95.
Hall was born on May 3, 1923, in Fate, Texas and was a lifelong resident of Rockwall County. In fact, Hall once claimed to have met the infamous fugitive couple Bonnie and Clyde while working at his hometown pharmacy as a boy. According to Hall, the couple used the pharmacy’s curbside service to buy cigarettes, Coca Cola and a whole lot of newspapers.
Hall graduated from Rockwall High School in 1941, and then joined the U.S. Navy where he served as an aircraft carrier pilot from 1942 to 1945 during WWII. He attended Texas Christian University in 1943 and the University of Texas after the war from 1946 to 1947. He earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University in 1951 and ran a private law practice in Rockwall for many years.
In 1950, Hall was elected Rockwall county judge and served in that capacity for 12 years. During that time span, Hall and a group of seven community women came together to establish the Rockwall Memorial Youth Center in 1956. The group had one mission for the center: to provide a social and recreational environment for young people for the purpose of preventing juvenile delinquency within the community. That youth center eventually became the Rockwall YMCA, today known as the J.E.R. Chilton YMCA at Rockwall.
Following his tenure as county judge, Hall was elected to the Texas State Senate and served as chairman on several committees, including Consumer Protection (1969–1972); County, District, and Urban Affairs (1969–1972); Historical and Recreational Sites (1969–1970); Motion Picture Theater Industry (1969–1970); Counties, Cities, and Towns (1967–1968); Local and Uncontested Bills (1967–1968); and Transportation (1965–1966).
In his 30+ years in politics, Hall served as both a Democrat and Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 1980 general election, Hall became a Democratic representative for Texas’s 4th congressional district when he defeated Republican John Wright. He served as a conservative Democrat for the state’s 4th district in the U.S. House until 2004 when, backed by strong support from then-President George W. Bush, he ran for his first full term as a Republican in the November election that year. He earned 68 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Jim Nickerson. Hall then served the Republican party in the U.S. House representing Texas’s 4th congressional district for 10 years. He was defeated in a runoff election in 2014 by Rep. John Ratcliffe of Heath, Texas.
Ratcliffe released the following statement upon hearing of Hall’s passing:
“Today the 4th District of Texas lost a great leader, statesman and friend. From his defense of our nation during WWII through his time as our Representative in Congress, Ralph Hall lived a remarkable life dedicated selflessly to serving his fellow citizens. Congressman Hall leaves behind a timeless legacy that will forever be remembered and appreciated by generations of Texans. Michele and I are keeping Ralph’s family and loved ones in our prayers during this difficult time.”
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott also extended his condolences, asking his fellow Texans to join him in keeping the Hall family in their prayers.
“Cecilia and I ask that all Texans join us in praying for the family of Ralph Hall as they mourn his passing. Congressman Hall heroically served his country in World War II and went on to a career in politics where he distinguished himself as a fiercely independent voice who put the needs of his constituents above all else. He represented the best of the Lone Star State and will be forever remembered as one of the finest Texans to ever serve our great nation.”
Rockwall County Judge David Sweet said Hall will be remembered not only for his service to the community and to his country, but also for his companionship.
“Congressman Hall was truly one of a kind,” Sweet said. “He set the standard for public service throughout the district. While I’m very thankful for his service to Rockwall County, I’m most thankful for his friendship.”
Hall is survived by his three children – Hampton Hall and wife Jody, District 382 Judge Brett Hall and wife Karen, and Blakeley Hall and wife Catherine. He is also survived by grandson, Jay Hall and wife Katherine, granddaughters, Sarah Hall, Amanda Hall, Crystal Kemper and husband Kyle, grandson, Steven Lule and wife Leanna, and great-grandchildren, Caden Hall, Blakeley Kemper, Theodore Kemper and Kendall Kemper. Ralph is also survived by a nephew, Mark Scott and wife Vickie and children Haley and Alec. Ralph was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellen, his brother, Hugh Hall, sister, Rosemary Hall Scott, nephew, Hugh Hall III and niece, Rebecca Jeannes.
Services will be held on Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Rockwall. Visitation will take place on Friday, March 15, at Rest Haven Funeral Home in Rockwall between 6 and 8 p.m.
By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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