Long-time funeral director dies at 64

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ernest Hall, Jr. remembered for compassion, kindness


PROCTORVILLE — He was a second-generation funeral home director who devoted nearly his entire life to comforting the community during their saddest times.

Now, the community mourns his passing and celebrates the legacy of compassion and humility that they say Ernest Hall, Jr. leaves behind.

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Hall Jr., 64, died Sunday at his home in Proctorville after an extended illness.

“At age 64, it doesn’t seem like a long life, but it was a very fulfilling life,” said Ernie Hall III, the man’s oldest son.

For more than 40 years, Hall Jr. operated Hall Funeral Home in Proctorville, a business his father, Hall Sr. started in 1931. Back then, the funeral home was located in Chesapeake.

By the time Hall Jr. was born, the funeral home had moved to Elizabeth Street in Proctorville. Hall Jr. started helping his father when he was just 11 years old and by age 21, he had graduated from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, ready to take the reins of licensed funeral director and embalmer after his own father’s passing.

“He grew up into it and it’s really all he’s ever done,” said Hall III.

Hall Jr. took care of his customers as if they were members of his own family, Hall III said.

“He will be missed, but we will continue the service that he always strived for,” Hall III said.

Those who knew Hall Jr. said his kindness didn’t stop at his business, but that he exuded compassion and Godliness in all things he did.

Dwayne Shugart was his pastor at New Hope United Methodist Church and only knew Hall Jr. for a few years, but said the man left a great impression on him.

“Ernie was a great guy,” Shugart said. “He was one of those guys who never met a stranger. And me being new to the community, and working closely with him at the funeral home, he was just open, honest, accepting. It was like I always grew up here.”

Pastor Jeff Black of First Baptist Church of Proctorville knew Hall for many years and said the man helped many people without asking for anything in return.

“The Scripture teaches us, as believers, that the manifestation of Christ himself ought to been seen through us,” Black said. “And when that happens, the very character of God is revealed. I can say without hesitation, Ernie was that way. He cared for others. He had this heart that was so big.”

And Hall Jr. genuinely loved what he did, his son said.

“He always said that was worth more than any monetary gain you could receive, making this process much easier on the family,” Hall III said. “He probably gave away more than he ever received here. He never refused anyone due to finances. Always worked with anybody. He always told me treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. The Golden Rule. That’s kind of the way we always handled things here.”

Although nearly 20 years older than Hall Jr., Proctorville native Dale Burcham said they had an enduring friendship that began when Hall Jr. was a young child.

Burcham worked at the funeral home under Hall Sr. for a time, driving the ambulance and helping run funerals.

“Ernie’s father, had lost his wife a number of years before and he would always thank me so much for taking his son and doing things he wasn’t able to do because he had to stay home and take care of the business,” Burcham recalled.

Cincinnati Reds games were a favorite pastime.

“Before he passed away we’d talk about what we did in Cincinnati and how we’d laugh about it,” Burcham said. “I remember one time he caught a foul ball off of Marty Keough. Dick Burns was with us, band director at Fairland High School. He offered Ernie $5 for that baseball. Back then, $5 was a lot of money. Of course, Ernie wouldn’t sell it because he had Marty’s signature on it. By the time we got back to Proctorville, Burns was up to 20 bucks. But Ernie wouldn’t sell it. He kept that for years. He said he looked out one day and saw Little Ernie (Hall III) out in the street playing with that baseball and knocked the cover off of it.

“We’ve lost a giant in our community,” Burcham said. “A dear, dear friend.”

In addition to Hall III, Hall Jr. leaves behind another son, Evan, and daughter, Ericca Hall Workman; and his wife, Clorinda Rood Hall.

All are licensed funeral directors and the two brothers are licensed embalmers.

“I think that was one of the most pleasing things in his lifetime, was to see all three of his kids actively involved in the family profession,” Hall III said.

Hall III officially joined the funeral home in 1991, and by 1999, the business had moved to its present location on County Road 775 in Proctorville. But he remembers beginning at an even earlier age, he said.

“I started helping him when I was 16,” Hall III said, but even attended funerals with his father at age 4. “I’d put a suit on and go to a funeral with him. I have a son who is 5 and he does the same thing with me. It’s all we’ve ever done. All we know.”

And Hall III said his father was active in the business, even to the end.

“He would ride his electric wheelchair to work,” Hall III. “He just lived across the street. He was always here. If we had a question, he always had the answer. He was a very intelligent man. Always had the solution to every problem. He could always take care of any situation.”

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Hall Funeral Home, with visitation 3 to 9 p.m. Friday at the funeral home and Masonic services at 9 p.m.

And just as Hall Jr. directed his father’s funeral and was a pallbearer, Hall III said he and his brother will do the same.

“My brother and I are going to conduct his funeral and be the pallbearers and we feel very honored,” Hall III said. “That’s really the last thing we could do for him.”