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Laurence W. "Red" Hall | 1915-2008

Energy and optimism were 'Red' Hall's forte

NEW SUBURB BEAUTIFUL — By all accounts, Red Hall lived a charmed life, right from the start.

"He was born on 7/11, and he lived at 711 S Brevard, and he was the luckiest man I ever met in my life," said his daughter Marte Watson.

Even Mr. Hall recognized that he was blessed with uncommonly good fortune.

"Right up until the end of his life, he would talk about what a great family and that he was lucky, lucky, lucky," said his other daughter Marie Preston.

Mr. Hall passed away June 30 from congestive heart failure. He would have turned 93 this week.

Even at the end, his daughters said, Mr. Hall looked at every day as a new adventure.

"He really was the eternal optimist," Preston said. "He looked forward to every single day."

Probably the worst tragedy in Mr. Hall's life came four months ago, when his wife, Martha, passed away. They had met when he was a student at Plant High School, and they had been virtually inseparable since.

"He said, 'You don't understand. I lost my wife, I lost my best friend, I lost my fishing buddy,' " Preston said. "He said that so many times the day she died."

But even his wife's death didn't dampen his enthusiasm for life.

"He missed my mother, of course," Preston said. "But he still enjoyed his children, his grandchildren and his friends."

Mr. Hall came to Tampa when he was 3 and called South Tampa his home for almost 90 years. He grew up just a block from Bayshore Boulevard, when it was lined with a beach instead of a sidewalk. He spent his days along the waters of Hillsborough Bay and fell in love with Florida nature.

"He just loved Florida," Watson said. "He had no interest in travel. A hundred and twenty-eight miles to the north and about 120 miles to the south, that was his life."

At the northern end of that area was the University of Florida. He went to college there and remained a loyal Gator fan the rest of his life.

His wife-to-be was in high school in Tampa while Mr. Hall was at UF, but they were still a devoted couple.

"When my dad was in college he got his fraternity pin and he drove straight to her house to give it to her," Watson said. "That was the only time he got to wear it, while he was on his way to give it to her."

They married several years later and lived in New Suburb Beautiful for 60 years.

They spent much of their leisure time a couple of hours to the south, in Boca Grande, where they owned a second home. They loved fishing for tarpon and were landing big game fish even when they were in their 70s and 80s.

Mr. Hall spent his career as a salesman and later vice president for Robbins Lumber.

It was an ideal job for Mr. Hall, who never tired of visiting with old friends and making new ones.

"He was a born salesman," Watson said. "He loved to talk to people and he was a great story-teller."

The energy and optimism he maintained until the end of his life allowed him to be surrounded by friends, his daughters said.

"He had so many friends from so many walks of life and across all generations," Preston said. "When he was in his 90s he had people in their 20s, 30s and 40s coming by to see him, both in Tampa and in Boca Grande. He was interested in people and he was also interesting. Even when he was 92, he always had a new story to tell."

Besides his two daughters, Mr. Hall is survived by his son, Laurence Jr., and seven grandchildren.

Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.

Energy and optimism were 'Red' Hall's forte 07/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 3:26pm]
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