William Joseph Hall Jr., beloved husband, father, grandfather, and treasured friend to many, died peacefully at his home in Vineyard Haven on March 20, 2018, from natural causes. He was 89 years young.
Referred to by many as “Mr. Positivity,” Bill lived his life with one purpose: to spread love wherever he went. Bill was always ready with a hug, a kind word, or words of wisdom for all who crossed his path, especially here on the Island he loved so much.
Bill was an avid golfer, and considered the fourth hole at Farm Neck his “church.” He loved working with his hands and gardening, and especially enjoyed growing his beautiful, awardwinning dahlias, and the many blue ribbons they took home from the Agricultural Society Fair. He was a very proud member of the Island’s infamous Barnacle Club, and was a self-taught expert and appraiser of oriental carpets, which he enjoyed for their intricate beauty. He loved music of all kinds, from Bach to Billie Holiday. He had deep, lifelong interests in the ocean, boats, marine history, archaeology, genealogy, Vineyard history, and astronomy, as well as a tireless desire to learn. Bill believed very deeply that the universe is “infinite,” and once wrote to Stephen Hawking to tell him so. He always treasured the note that Professor Hawking sent back, respectfully letting him know that while he appreciated his note, he was in fact wrong!
After the death of his wife in 1999, he reached out to friends to start a poker group on Wednesday nights, which has continued to this day, and will continue after this death. As a nod to his love for astronomy, he called the group “Intuitive Cosmology and Poker Society,” or ICAPS. He was a devoted Hospice volunteer, and was grateful to have Martha’s Vineyard Hospice care for him as he recently neared death.
It was at the Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven (future home of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum), where he was admitted while in the Coast Guard after becoming ill, where he fell in love with the medical secretary and local island girl Joanne Finnegan. For him it was love at first sight, and they were married at Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs in 1951. Bill deeply loved his Vineyard bride and Martha’s Vineyard all the days of his life.
Bill was a true entrepreneur in every way, so it made sense that after a successful career in Boston selling diesel ship engines, he would start his own firm. In 1976 he left his job and started his own marine brokerage firm, Hall Associates. With a dream, desk, and phone in his home, he sold ocean tugs and barges from every corner of the world, and rapidly became one of the most notable marine brokers of his time. He ran his company with his son Christopher from the Vineyard until 2007. After living on the South Shore of Boston and raising four children, Bill and Joan moved home to Martha’s Vineyard in 1982, where they spent the “best years of their lives” in their William Street home.
Bill was born on Oct. 5, 1928, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, and grew up in Arlington, an only child. He enjoyed a blissful early life with many neighborhood friends, and loved boating, fishing, hunting, playing ice hockey, and woodworking. After graduating from Arlington High School, Bill was accepted at Northeastern University, but decided to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard and serve his country instead. It was because of the Coast Guard that he met and fell in love with his wife and the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Bill is survived by and will be dearly missed by his three daughters, Martha Hall Kelly of Litchfield, Conn., Sally Hatcher of Downers Grove, Ill., and Polly Simpkins of Vineyard Haven, and is predeceased by his wife, Joanne Finnegan Hall of Vineyard Haven, and his son, Christopher Hall of Seattle. He also leaves behind six grandchildren, two sons-in-law, and so many friends and family, all of whom have been inspired by Bill’s joie de vivre. His love for those around him, belief in unconditional love and forgiveness, his delight in the beauty of life, and his continued positive attitude even in times of strife will be forever missed. Until his last day of life, and in the face of adversity, he woke every day with a true passion for making each day the best it could be, and even in his last words he spoke of “surrendering to love.”
A celebration of his life will be held on the Vineyard on June 16, 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum at mvmuseum.org; and/or please perform a random act of kindness for someone who may not be expecting it, or reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time, or who may need some support. That was the way William J. Hall lived his life, and inspired others to do the same.