I am Joyce Hall's eldest son, and I would like to tell you about her life. She was born April 24, 1924 in Fitler , Mississippi the third child and second daughter of Arnold Archible Adair, Sr. and Courtney Irene Bird Adair. Later, her parents would have another son and two daughters. Her father was superintendent of Sunday schools in Gloster , Mississippi , and her mother was a school teacher. She was descended from a family of American patriots including Captain John Girault, who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Her grandfather was a Mississippi state senator, and her father fought in World War I. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Eastern Star.
She grew up in small towns in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Her father moved his family several times in order to seek employment so that he could provide for their needs. Growing up under these conditions with a large family taught her household, cooking, and sewing skills, which would help prepare her for rearing a large family on a pastor's salary.
She did well in school and enjoyed learning and was involved in many clubs and organizations. Her family was active in the Methodist Church and she participated in the youth group and the choir. She also helped with vacation Bible schools in New York , Pennsylvania , and other locations. She attended many Methodist summer camps. She took piano lessons and voice lessons, and became an accomplished pianist and organist.
Her formal education began in the delta region of Mississippi . Later, her family moved to the central part of the state and she graduated from high school in Red Lick. She attended East Central State College in Ada , Oklahoma for one year, and then transferred to Millsaps College in Jackson , Mississippi . There, she met William Thomas Hall, Jr. He asked her to marry him a week after they met and they were married five weeks later on March 15, 1946 . They were married for 62 years. He loved her so much that after her death, he could not bear to live life without her, and passed away less than two months later.
She gave up her desire to earn a college degree to become a pastor's wife, and with the birth of her first son, William Thomas III, added the duties of a mother to her life. Later, she would give birth to John Edwin, Joyce Evette, Glenda Sue, and Neva Cheryl.
She was the pianist and organist in many of the small churches her husband pastored. She also served in many other ways too numerous for a brief document such as this, first in Mississippi in Harrisonburg, and Huntington – Wilkerson, and then in Louisiana in Oil City, Shreveport, Pleasant Hill, Montgomery, Urania, Zwolle, Choudrant – Douglas, Brownsville in West Monroe, Elton – Basile, and Waterproof. They later moved to El Paso , Texas , where they lived the remainder of their lives.
In the 1960's, she returned to school to continue the education that was interrupted in 1946. In 1965, the same year her eldest son graduated from high school, she graduated with honors from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston , Louisiana , with a bachelor's degree in English Education and Library Science. She also later earned a master's degree. In midlife, she began a career as an English and literature instructor and librarian, first in the public schools, then private schools, and later in higher education. She had a reputation as a strict teacher, but was also beloved by her students. She received many honors, including being named teacher of the year on numerous occasions. She finally retired from teaching when she was nearly 80 years old. Even though she had begun her career after the age of 40, she still taught for over 30 years.
She was an accomplished seamstress. She made clothing for her family and for herself. Many times, she was asked if she would make clothing for outsiders, but she rarely did because she was so busy being a servant of God, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a librarian, a musician, and an avid birdwatcher.
She was a beautiful, petite woman. She had a pleasant, friendly disposition, and was very intelligent. She was always firm, but patient and loving, with her children.
The last years of her life, she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive ailment that makes it difficult to breath and restricts activity. This affliction is almost always caused by smoking, but she was not a smoker. After suffering for years, she was in the hospital once again undergoing painful treatments, and, barely able to talk, she said, “I'm ready to go home.” And she did exactly that, passing away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of April 14, 2008 .
As I look over this short description of the events of her life, I realize that a brief document such as this is inadequate to give anyone an understanding of who she was. How do you describe the subtle smile of the Mona Lisa? How do you do justice to a sunrise in mere words? That's the problem I'm having writing this document. Anyone who knew her will tell you that she was a special person. Having said that, I realize that it is a trite phrase which does not do justice to her. Oh, sure, you're saying to yourself, you are her son. You are blinded by her motherly love. But ask anyone who knew her, and you'll find out that what I say is true. To know her was to love her.
William T. Hall, III
|Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2010|