Harold A. Hall
The Cancer Victim Who Wouldn't Quit
By LEIGH TUCKER
Special to the Sanford Herald
Harold Hall is a winner. Anyone who knows him would know he would be-even to defeating cancer
and continuing to lead a normal life, which his doctor said was nothing short of a miracle.
Miracle it was not; it was determination. He never took the easy way.
Harold was born on a farm near Winner, South Dakota, in 1921, a proper omen for him. When his
father died in the midst of the Great Depression, he and his brothers kept the farm going. Until the
family decided he should go to college. At 19, he borrowed $35 from the local banker and set out
across the state to Spearfish Normal College to become a teacher. The towns of Spearfish and
Deadwood there were still redolent with the history of the gold rush mania of 1875 and the Dakota
land boom of 1878. Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried in Deadwood which was also the
home of the Deadwood Dick dime novels, Spearfish had a stream in which the water froze from the
bottom up in winter, instead of the other way round. Perhaps it was called Spearfish because of
that-it's easy to catch fish when they can't hide beneath the ice. Harold got a job at a nearby lumber
mill to pay his expenses. The mill supplied "sand lacing" (four-by-fours to keep tunnels from caving
in) to the Homestead Mining Company which had been in business since 1877, and enrolled in the
college. His first year he studied English and music and other subjects for teaching small Dakota
urchins. Then the owner of an airfield near Spearfish took him up in a plane-as incident which changed
his life. With both feet firmly on the ground, so to speak, he took to the air. His college subjects
from then on were analytical and aerial geometry, trigonometry and navigation. He haunted the
airfield after school and managed to squeeze some money from his lumber mill earnings for flight
instruction. That was in the fall of 1941. After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government paid for his lessons
in Civilian Pilot Training and he obtained his license. "From farm boy to air pilot in ten months,"
Harold said proudly. He wanted to be a naval air pilot, but there were some hurdles first. After
graduation from the two-year college he went to Iowa City for pre-flight courses in navy lore and
regulations, then to Minneapolis to what was know as the "elimination base." "Nobody's going going
to eliminate this farm boy!" vowed Harold. Pensacola was the last step to commission, Sept. 3, 1943.
He was where he wanted to be. After two months of flying submarine inshore patrol from San Diego,
California, Harold was stationed at Guadalcanal as carrier aircraft test pilot, not a safe or easy job. He
stayed there until the end of the war. He expected to be released to inactive status as a reserve officer
at the end of the war, and he was---after stints of duty in Pensacola, Panama and Banana River, in
Brevard county, which lasted until 1947.
Planning ahead for civilian life, he decided that Central Florida and real estate were an excellent
combination and so, on demobilization, he and his bride Berta settled (they thought) in the Orlando
area, where he passed his real estate exam and sold his first piece of property (a chicken farm),
The plan was premature. Recalled in 1948, with only one more short period in civies, he spent the
next 19 years in the navy, teaching instrument flying to Korea bound fighter pilots at the Sanford
Naval Air Station, flying "Super Connies" on the DEW Line extension (Newfoundland to the Azores)
and going wherever else the navy required his skills.
Before his eldest son had turned eighteen, the family had moved 17 times. Harold learned a lot about
real estate buying and selling houses to suit the needs of his growing family-seven in all, three girls
and four boys. Finally, in 1967, Harold Hall retired with the rank of commander, after 25 years of
service, and settled once more with his family in Sanford. He soon set up his own real estate office in
Sanford, while his wife established herself as an interior designer first in Sanford and now in Winter
Park where the family moved in 1972. Life was very pleasant. Then disaster struck. The stiffness he
had noticed in his left leg and hip turned out to be cancer, and it looked pretty bad, on preliminary
investigation. From the naval hospital he went to Shand's Teaching Hospital in Gainesville for his
operation. Twelve hours and 26 pints of blood later, the cancer was removed but so was his whole hip
joint. Only wires kept his leg bone attached to his pelvis. Never again would he walk, his surgeon said.
Or, at most, only with the aid of walkers and canes. The doctor was wrong. Harold Hall had kids to put
through college and a lot of living to do. He was not about to give in to being an invalid---not ever.
Today, Harold Hall walks unaided, runs his office with the help of two of his sons who also went into
real estate, drives his own car and plays bogey golf regularly. He also takes time to visit Shand's
hospital in Gainesville to show other cancer victims what determination and perserance can do.
A walking inspiration. He's a winner. He always will be.
Harold A. Hall passed on January 17th, 1998 and is buried in Winter Park, Florida
Harold A. Hall, founder of Hall Realty
Covering All of Central