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Enriching the Lives of Others

Adele C. Hall to Join Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

In a biblical tale, King Solomon describes a virtuous woman – she is rare, filled with strength and valor, has an attitude of charity and looks to the needs of others. He could have been speaking of Adele Hall.

From an early age, Adele Coryell Hall observed how her parents lived their values of community service and activism. And many times, she heard them recite a small but significant guiding principle:

“It isn’t always the things we do. The way we do them matters, too.”

In recognition of her lifetime achievements and contributions, Hall is one of seven exceptional women from the Metropolitan Kansas City area included in the inaugural class of honorees to be recognized in the new Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. Stories of other inductees can be found online.

Hall kept in mind three simple rules for living:  it’s getting the work done, not who claims credit, that really matters; you can cooperate, but don’t sacrifice your principles; and working with others, you can accomplish things that none of you could do alone. Those rules worked well. During her marriage of almost 60 years to Donald J. Hall, former president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, they came to be known for their many kindnesses and heartfelt generosity.

Like Martha Jane Starr, the Hall of Fame’s namesake, Adele was president of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri. The group fit Adele’s manner – keeping things simple, and not getting mired in the how or the who. From this vantage point, Hall could rally support. Her appeals were gracious, but, day or night, she could work the phones and round up help. At the same time, she respected and listened to the opinions of others and took their good advice. They pulled together the right people and resources to make things better.

Hall was a product of the University of Nebraska and a Phi Beta Kappa, likely the sources of her practical side when it came to philanthropy. Through such organizations as the Stop Violence Coalition, the United Negro College Fund, Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Rose Brooks Center, the Salvation Army and Wayside Waifs, she helped bring improved health, access to education, social reform and employment opportunities to those without them.

If it meant raising money for health care services, Hall would reach out to someone with name recognition and cachet. At least one local sports figure, Tom Watson, teamed with Hall to stage Watson’s Children’s Mercy Golf Classic, bringing in $10 million for the hospital. An indication of her influence is seen in the fact that she was the first woman to head up the local United Way campaign.

Hall had another side – one that wanted everyone to have the uplifting experiences and enrichment that only the arts can provide. She contributed both her time and her resources to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Starlight Theater, and was a member of the Arts in Education Advisory Committee of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hall was satisfied to help others find a happier, healthier life; but her activities brought with them a tide of recognition:  the Central Exchange, which she helped to establish, named her Woman of the Year in 2000. The Stop Violence Coalition awarded her the title of Kindest Kansas Citian. UMKC bestowed upon Hall the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest non-academic award presented to a volunteer. She was part of the White House Endowment Fund, the Points of Light Foundation and the Library of Congress Trust Fund.

Her passing in 2013 brought a flood of remembrances and tributes. One friend said of Hall, “She loved kids, she loved family and she loved this community.”

Former Hallmark CEO and friend Irv Hockaday went further – “They say no one is indispensable, but she comes as close to being someone we can never forget…”


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