Robert Joseph Hall, M.D.
June 4, 1926 – July 3, 2018
Robert Joseph Hall died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday, the 3rd of July 2018. He was 92 years of age.
Bob was born on the 4th of June 1926 in Buffalo, New York, to Florence Kirst Hall and Joseph Matthew Hall. After completing his pre-medical studies at Canisius College, he graduated with an MD degree from the University of Buffalo in 1948, at the youthful age of 22. One month later, he married the love of his life, Dorothy Nowak. The two celebrated 61 years together and called numerous places home while raising their five children, and finally settled in Houston in 1969.
Following medical school, Bob joined the United States Army Medical Corps “just for a year or two” to defray some of his medical school expenses. He started out at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., and retired as a full colonel, twenty-one years later, after a prestigious military career. In 1952, Bob spent a year in Korea at the 11th EVAC Medical Tent/Hospital which supported three MASH units, followed by a three-year tour of duty in Sendai, Japan, where he was joined by Dorothy and their two children. A third child was born while they were in Sendai.
After returning to the States in early 1955, Bob served in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, followed by tours of duty at Walter Reed and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. In 1966, the family headed back to Maryland again, where Bob presided as Chief of Cardiology at Walter Reed. During Bob’s medical career, he served as cardiologist to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and numerous government officials and dignitaries. He also served on NASA’s Mercury and Gemini missions in assessing the health of astronauts upon their return from space and was a Consultant in Cardiology to the Surgeon General of the US Army. Bob’s career in the military afforded him multiple experiences that paved the way for his next phase of life and provided bonds with friends and colleagues that lasted a lifetime.
Bob’s five-year tour at Fort Sam Houston convinced him that Texas was the place he wanted to call home. After retiring from the military, Bob was hired by Dr. Denton Cooley as the Medical Director at the Texas Heart Institute and Chief of Cardiology at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. Bob, together with a former Army colleague, also started the world-renowned private practice: Hall-Garcia Cardiology.
Bob’s career spanned the history of modern cardiology, of which he was a prominent part. Once established in the Texas Medical Center, Bob assumed numerous leadership roles, including membership of the President’s Advisory Panel on Heart Disease, and Chairman of the Board of Governors and Trustees of the American College of Cardiology. He also enjoyed his teaching appointments at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and was actively involved in the American Heart Association.
Bob received many awards for his skill as a leader and physician, including the Legion of Merit of the US Army in 1969, and the Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement in Cardiovascular Diseases in 1989 for his contributions to Clinical Cardiology and Teaching at the Texas Heart Institute.
Patients from around the world came to him, or he to them. But while he was honored to serve kings and princes, he was universally esteemed for his courage, fairness and decency, and for the dignity that he extended every patient. For many of his numerous trainees, this will be his lasting legacy.
Though he wore many hats, perhaps the most cherished was that of teacher. Bob was a masterful teacher who was renowned for his untiring instruction of medical and graduate students in the nuances of cardiac murmurs and the fundamentals of physical diagnosis, with emphasis on clinical observation and direct inquiry of the patient. He touched the hearts and minds of all he taught, and this was the “hat” that was hardest for him to retire.
But despite this professional success, Bob’s family was truly the light of his life. On a young military doctor’s pay, family vacations early in his career included a travel trailer, AAA TripTik maps, national parks, and as often as possible, fishing gear! The family traveled through most of the 50-states, camping, fishing, swimming, and making memories. One of his favorite hobbies as a young man was photography, and as time permitted later in life, travel—always with camera in hand. As Bob slowly retired the “hats” from his various careers, he and Dorothy traveled the world. Cruises were plentiful, often, and long. While Bob and Dorothy enjoyed traveling the world with old friends or just together, their favorite trip was the family cruise to Alaska to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Nothing brought Bob more pleasure --- and pride - than hosting all twenty-four of his family, including twelve grandchildren, on a week of sightseeing and wilderness adventure!
Bob is preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; his parents, Joseph and Florence Hall; his only sister, Joan White; and his favorite uncle and spiritual mentor, Rev. Francis Hall. He is survived by his five children: Thomas Hall and his wife Cathy, Kathleen Noble and her husband Philip, Mary Stuart and her husband Kirk, Michael Hall and his wife Beth, and Steven Hall and his wife Patricia. He is also survived by twelve grandchildren: Brian Hall and his wife Natasha, and Erin Blitzstein and her husband Eric; David Noble, and Katherine Noble; Jennifer Fankhauser and her husband Randy, Kathryn Stuart, and Matthew Stuart; Cayla Willingham and her husband Matthew, Ryan Hall and his wife Amanda, and John Hall; Margaret Hall, and Mary Beth Hall; and twelve great-grandchildren: Ava, Andrew and Emma Hall, Benjamin and Charlotte Blitzstein, Logan Fankhauser, Jack, Faye and Eli Willingham, and Jansen, Audrey and Annabelle Hall.
The family would like to express their eternal gratitude to his caregivers from Home Instead Senior Care and the nursing staff at Brookdale Galleria and to his long-time housekeeper, Ms. Maria Banda.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock in the afternoon until seven o’clock in the evening on Wednesday, the 11th of July, in the parlor and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
A Mass of Christian Burial is to be offered at ten o’clock in the morning on Thursday, the 12th of July at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road in Houston.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent Parish Life Center.
The rite of committal is to follow, via an escorted cortege, at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive in Houston.
We celebrate his life, and his memory will live forever in our hearts.
- Texas Heart Institute
- Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family Wednesday, July 11, 2018
- Mass of Christian Burial Thursday, July 12, 2018
- The Rite of Committal is to follow, via an escorted cortege, at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, in Houston
Robert Joseph Hall, M.D.
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July 9, 2018
Bob Hall, the Gentle Giant, was revered by his colleagues in the Texas Medical Center, including this one.
May he Rest in Peace until we meet again.
IN THE CARE OF