Harold A. Hall The Cancer Victim Who Would Not Quit

This article was published in the Sanford Harold, in Sanford, FL. Sunday, August 8th 1982.

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.

It 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 Connie's" 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.

Soon after, Harold Hall walked unaided, ran his office with the help of two of his sons who also went into real estate, drove his own car and played bogey golf regularly. He also took time to visit Shand's hospital in Gainesville to show other cancer victims what determination and perseverance 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