Willie Claude Hall
Biographical Sketch Of The Life Of Willie Claude Hall
Willie Claude Hall was born March 12, 1883, to John R. and Fannie Sanford Hall while the family lived in Gibson County, Tennessee. He attended Hall-Moody Institute and George Peabody College from which he held the B.S. and M.A. degrees. He was married August 17, 1908, to Miss Lelia Elinor Conner. To this union three children were born: Geneva (deceased), Mary Catherine, and John M. Hall.
Hall began preaching in 1903 in Weakley County, Tennessee. He preached throughout Tennessee, West Kentucky, Oklahoma, six years as the local minister at Altus, two years at Cordell where he also served as President of Cordell Christian College. This was during the depression years when money was scarce and good positions were hard to find. N. B. Hardeman invited Hall to return to Freed-Hardeman College. He accepted the offer even though he would receive considerably less money than he was receiving at Altus. He accepted the offer because of his love for the school and the golden opportunity to teach and train young men in preaching the gospel.
Claude Hall had three great loves in his life, the first one being for the church. Although he was a teacher for most of his life, he was a preacher first. Even during the years that he was teaching, he preached on Sundays.
His love for the church was expressed in his love for the people that were members of the church. He always said, "Let's do business with those that are members of the church," and he practiced this. When he would go to town to buy something, it would invariably be from someone that was a member of the church.
He wanted people to do right, he wanted those around him to do right. On one occasion when the family was traveling they had car trouble and took the car to a garage. The mechanic was having trouble getting the car fixed and used some profane language. Hall corrected him on his usage of the language. The man said, "What is it to you?" Hall answered him, "Well, you know you are a mechanic and your business is to make automobiles do better and do right. I am a preacher, my business is to see that people do right." From then on they had no problem and the man understood what Hall meant.
Hall was distressed at anything that caused division in the church and he did everything in his power to see that division never came about. He was well known in West Kentucky and in West Tennessee and preached there in many meetings. In those years gospel meetings were held for two weeks and sometimes even for three weeks. On one occasion he was holding a meeting and was invited into various homes to eat. They would begin telling him about other members of the congregation. He had a little book and he began making notations of the things that people would tell him. The last night of the meeting he pulled out this little book and told the congregation, "You remember that I have this little book with me during the three weeks of this meeting. I have been recording what you folks have been telling me about other people. I have decided that now, this last night of the meeting, would be a good time to read this." Of course, he had it made up with one of the elders who immediately got up and said, "Brother Hall, I don't believe this would be the time to read this book." However, this emphasized the lesson that he was going to preach that night on gossiping and it made a very fine sermon for that particular congregation.
In almost every public prayer he quoted I Corinthians 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." He had strength in his faith. He had faith in the hope that he had and he practiced the love that this verse indicates.
The second great love of his life was his family. There were three children, two girls and one boy. He loved each member of his family. He never raised his voice against his wife, he had extreme patience with her. She often forgot her purse. Many, many times after they had driven several miles from home he would turn the car around and drive back home to pick up "Mother's" purse. Yet none of the children could recall that at any time he was ever critical or even made any comment other than, "Ah, Wife."
While the children were growing up he had the habit of reading something out of the newspaper at home. He would read this out loud, something that had happened such as a murder or some theft or something of this kind and make some comment about it. His comment would teach youngsters the importance of not having any part in immorality or indecent activities, that there was danger in violating any law of the land. Hall was a very strict disciplinarian at home and yet he was kind.
The third great love for W. Claude Hall was Freed-Hardeman College. He served as her President for two years from 1923-25. Then he moved to Cordell, Oklahoma, to become President of Cordell Christian College, the predecessor of Oklahoma Christian College. He was President of Cordell during 1925-27. He moved to Altus, Oklahoma, to serve as fulltime minister of the church there. It was there that Hardeman extended the invitation to Hall to return to Freed-Hardeman College. He accepted the invitation even though the salary was considerably less than he was receiving at Altus. This showed the great love that he had for the school because it offered him the opportunity to teach and train young men to preach the gospel. These were very enjoyable years to him. The opportunity to be with young people kept him young at heart. Nearly any time any of his students get together there are always stories told regarding something that happened in one of "brother Hall's" classes. He was active until two weeks before his death August 18, 1967.
He abhorred the use of tobacco even before the government studies showed that tobacco smoking was really harmful. One of the speeches that he made in chapel at Freed-Hardeman year after year was on the evils of tobacco. He would not allow anyone to smoke in his house or in his car.
One of his most memorable classes was one called "Spoken English." He influenced scores of young men in their preaching careers. He emphasized the importance of the proper use of the English language. He helped many young people to go through college, helping them out of his own pocket, and never received any remuneration in return. There is no way of knowing how much he loaned people that were going to school. He had faith in human nature; most of the money was returned. He believed that people in general were decent and honest.
The Halls were married for 59 years. They were married on August 17, 1908. He passed away on his wedding anniversary, August 17, 1967, at the age of 84.
He was survived by his wife, Lelia Elinor, one daughter, Mrs. Mary K. Owings, and one son, John A Hall. Funeral service was held in the Church of Christ at Henderson, Tennessee, with H. A. Dixon and C. P. Roland officiating. Burial was in the City Cemetery in Henderson.
In his prayers Hall always prayed that when it came his time to die that his hour would be peaceful, and it was. There was no suffering. His heart just stopped beating.
The lives of brother and sister Hall were so formed together that she had no desire to live after his passing. She died seven months later in March, 1968.
-By Gussie Lambert, In Memoriam, 1968, Shreveport, LA, pages 118-120
A Tribute to W. Claude Hall
On August 18, 1967, Willie Claude Hall departed this life at the age of eighty-four years and five months. In his passing a truly great man has gone from our number.
A good part of Brother Hall's life was devoted to Christian education. For short periods he served as president at Oklahoma Christian College in Cordell and at Freed-Hardeman College. With the assistance of C. P. Roland he brought the latter through one of the most trying periods of her existence. From 1933 he taught English and Bible here. His teaching was thorough, yet he could always find time and place for a good bit of fun. Students loved his classes. They loved him as a man and as a teacher.
Through his Spoken English classes and the Preachers Club which he sponsored for many years, Brother Hall left his mark upon many for good. It is not difficult to detect this influence as we hear his students speak.
W. C. Hall knew the Bible well, and taught it effectively, just as he did other subjects. The Proverbs, Psalms and prophetic books were among his annual offerings. He defended the truth in several public discussions, and proved to be quite able in debate.
He possessed the graces of gratitude, meekness and reverence beyond that of many. He seldom led a prayer that did not begin, "Our heavenly Father, we are so thankful." In the last public prayer before the Henderson church, he said, "The older we become, the more thankful we are."
He taught and demonstrated a profound respect for the Word of God. He urged at every opportunity that we ought to hold on to Thee, Thou, Thine in our address to God, warning that there was a trend toward such familiarity in our prayers to him that we might conclude that God is just like ourselves.
Brother Hall's chapel speeches were always unique and unforgettable. They dealt with many practical topics. Some dealt with moral issues. Most of them were spiced by humorous incidents from the experiences of his many years.
For about one-half of a century W. C. Hall preached the gospel of Christ. He was kept busy as long as his physical energies permitted. He loved to preach, and he loved to hear others preach. He believed that all other faithful men could contribute to his own knowledge and understanding of God's will. He repeatedly spoke of how much this attitude in listening had rewarded him. No young preacher feared preaching to Brother Hall. He was often a source of encouragement to the writer in the early days of his work, as he was to so many others.
In 1950 the Board of Directors appointed Brother Hall to the Executive Council of Freed-Hardeman College, and he officially served in that capacity until his retirement from the faculty in 1964. In an unofficial capacity he helped the administration as long as he lived. His assistance has contributed greatly to the continuing progress of the College.
Thomas E. Scott and Vernon Morris, along with C.P. Roland (a longtime friend of and co-worker with Brother Hall) and the writer, paid honor to this great servant of God in the presence of a large group assembled in the Henderson church building. Brother Hall was laid to rest in the Henderson cemetery.
We could not pay fitting tribute to Brother Hall without including Sister Lelia, his faithful companion for fifty-nine years. She was a true helpmeet in every sense of the word and a great source of strength to Brother Hall. Sister Hall, her son John M.; two daughters Mrs. Geneva Flinn and Mrs. Mary Catherine Kirby; and seven grandchildren survive.
-H.A. Dixon, Gospel Advocate, September 14, 1967, page 582
W. Claude Hall
My first glimpse of this great man was at a Lord’s day evening service at 10th & Rockford Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He and sister Hall were moving from Altus, Oklahoma, where he’d been preaching, to Henderson, Tennessee, where he was to resume teaching at Freed-Hardeman College. He led the prayer that evening.
My next contact with him was when he came to our congregation at Wingo to hold a meeting. This was in 1934. I’d been baptized two years before and throughly enjoyed brother Hall’s lessons. (He preached twice each day.) I can tell you now some of his themes. The next year, he returned to Wingo for our summer meeting. This time, he stayed in our home. While we lacked such niceties as indoor plumbing, electricity, and refrigeration, brother Hall was a most compatible guest. I count that meeting as on of the highlights of my life!
It was during this association that my interest and that of my parents was kindled in Freed-Hardeman College. There was one problem: money. The Great Depression was still hanging around. Bro. Hall offered encouragement, saying a way could be provided. After graduation from high school in 1939, I worked the summer in Tulsa, where our family had moved by then. My wages were $1.50 per day and thought I saved it, there wasn’t enough to pay for school. Nevertheless, I went to Henderson.
I want to say, right up front, that my greatest blessing and benefit from Freed-Hardeman College was my association with brother and sister Hall. About a month or so after school started, brother Hall called me into his office and told me I could move into their house. He observed that my financed were depleted and their son, John, had graduated at FHC and had gone to Oklahoma to school. The Halls took me in and I became “their boy.” I performed chores for brother Hall for part of m keep and he allowed me to sign a note for the balance, which I paid after school. I had to have emergency surgery during my stay in their home and no parents ever did bro for a son than they did.
It was as a teacher that brother Hall was best. He taught Freshman English Composition. Every student in America should have this course. He also taught Old Testament and Spoken English. Brother Hill had a keen interest in words. His second favorite book was the dictionary and each student in his class was required to have one and bring it to class. He sought to help pupils build a good vocabulary. Teacher at schools like FHC were poorly paid in those days but I have never heard brother Hall mention this. Their was a work of service. Bro. Hall also filled weekend preaching appointments.
After school, busy with preaching and with my own family, I didn’t see as much of the Halls as I should have and would like to have. They are among God’s great people and I shall be forever in their debt! —GTJ
This short article about W. Claude Hall (1883-1967) was written by George T. Jones (1921-2007) in the Word of Grace, Vol. 4, No. 8 (Aug 1995): 2. It is worth the reading.
-Terry J. Gardner contributed this article to Friends Of The Restoration Facebook Group, June 29, 2018.
Hall- Mrs. Lelia Elinor Conner Hall, age 83, died in Jackson, Tennessee March 6, 1968. She had suffered a stroke earlier in the afternoon.
Mrs. Hall, the daughter of Sam and Atoga Hemphill Conner, was born in Weakley County, Tennessee. She attended schools in Weakley County and later attended the Hall-Moody Institute in Martin where she met and married W. Claude Hall in 1908.
Mr. Hall, who died August 18, 1967, was a teacher, preacher, and was past president of Freed-Hardeman College where he taught beginning in 1923. Mrs. Hall had been a faithful supporter of Freed-Hardeman College through the years and for many years kept students in her home and gave many an opportunity to get their education.
Mr. and Mrs. Hall celebrated their fifty-ninth wedding anniversary a day or two before his death in 1967.
She leaves one son, John Hall, Henderson, Tennessee; two daughters, Mrs. Howard Flinn, Acapulco, Mexico and Mrs. David Kirby, Sentinel, Oklahoma; one brother, Joe Conner, Fulton, Kentucky and one sister, Mrs. Harry Helms, Lansing, Illinois.
The funeral was conducted in the church building in Henderson, Friday, March 8, by C. P. Roland, H. A. Dixon, Phil Hefley, and Thomas Scott. Burial was in the Henderson Cemetery.-W. A. Bradfield.
-Obituary Of Lelia Elinor Hall, Gospel Advocate - Volume CX - Number 13 - March 28, 1968 page 207
Directions To The Grave Of W. Claude Hall
W. Claude Hall is buried in the City Cemetery at Henderson, Tennessee. From I-40 in West Tennessee, take the Hwy 45 exit south. Go through the city of Jackson, and continue south about 15 miles to Henderson. You will be on the bypass in Henderson. Go to you come to Hwy. 100. Turn left and go to the next stop. Turn left on North Church St.. Go about 100 yards and turn into the cemetery on the right. The cemetery will fork close to the entrance. Take the right fork and head to the very rear of the cemetery. Just past a little storage house on the right, stop the car and you will probably see the Hall grave to your right. Just past it is the Dixon Monument. Grave faces west.