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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned nearly a century, Jean Hall created a priceless collection of memories comprised of moments shared with the ones she loved. A woman who was content in whatever life brought, she faced whatever came her way with both strength and courage that were truly extraordinary. Although Jean accomplished so much of which to be proud, it was her family who grew to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren that was Jean’s greatest source of pride and joy. Described as gracious and generous, she was forever seeking spiritual knowledge and was very active at the First Congregational Church of Detroit. Deeply loved, Jean will never be forgotten.
The year 1917 is often remembered as the year that our nation entered WWI after repeated acts of hostility left President Woodrow Wilson with no choice but to fight back. Our involvement only lasted a year, however, as the war came to an end in 1918 with America being recognized as a world leader for the first time. It was also in 1917 that Bert Marl and Avis Eleanor (Christy) Salisbury were pleased to announce the birth of the healthy baby girl they named Jean on June 14th. Her father was the Benson County judge for 43 years while her mother was a teacher who later focused her attention at home as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Jean was one of four children in the Salisbury family as she was raised alongside her brother, Robert, and her sisters, Avis Ann and Alberta.
Born in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, Jean was raised there on the family farm. They always had a large garden and canned fruits and vegetables to get them through the winter. Growing up in North Dakota was certainly a challenge when winter came. Because the winters were bitter cold, they regularly had drop-in guests who were seeking shelter from the storm. These guests often ended up staying for weeks until the storm gave way, making travel possible again. In order to get to their outhouse through the driving storm, the Salisbury family and their guests followed a rope that led the way. Jean learned how to work hard while growing up as she helped with the gardening, canning, and cared for her younger siblings. Later on, they moved into town. Jean and her family were active in the Methodist church, and Jean graduated from Minnewaukan High School in 1934 as her class salutatorian.
After graduating Jean was ready for all that life had in store. She and her siblings attended Jamestown College, a small Presbyterian College located in Jamestown, North Dakota. Jean majored in English and had minors in both history and social science. While in college, she wrote plays and orchestrated performances, and she went on to earn her B.A. in 1938. Jean’s education didn’t end there, however, as she later earned her M.A. in Special Education from Wayne State University, and from 1963 through 1975, Jean earned 50 hours of graduate credit in special education, learning disabilities, and the teaching of reading
Throughout much of her life, Jean worked in a career she loved by teaching in schools in Ferndale, Michigan, from 1960 until she retired in 1988. Jean’s work took her to several schools over the years. She taught first and second grade from 1960 through 1965, and then in 1965 Jean began teaching in special education. She spent the remainder of her career in that field, ending her teaching career at a local learning center, Resource Center, as she worked there from 1982 through 1988. Jean touched countless hearts and lives during her days as a teacher.
She was very creative and enjoyed taking her students camping and on trips. She and some assistants even took her entire special education class on the train to Kalamazoo where they performed a play involving speaking parts, singing, and dancing at Wilson School. While there they also visited the sights of Kalamazoo. After retiring, Jean made her home in Kalamazoo.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was Jean’s introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Otto "Dick” Hall, and they met while he was substitute teaching at the high school in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, while she was a student there. From there they both attended and graduated from Jamestown College, and while there they dated on and off. They resumed their relationship in Michigan while Jean was working as a social worker in Delray and Dick was attending graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. With a desire to establish a life together, she and Dick were married on October 17, 1941, in Detroit, Michigan. The newlyweds then bought a house in Ferndale where they raised their five children including Roberta Jan “Robin” , Marlene, Fred, Harold “ Hal”, and Karl. Their oldest, Robin, was born during the days of WWII, which meant that Jean raised her as a single parent for three years while Dick was serving in the military. During that time she also worked as a secretary. As a mother Jean instilled a strong work ethic in her children, gave them values and taught each of them the importance of family. She encouraged her children to be independent and supported them in their own endeavors.
Jean valued family and community. The Hall and Salisbury families enjoyed most holidays and special events together in Detroit. There were occasional trips to visit family in North Dakota, visits to the Fred Hall family in Parchment Michigan, and family trips to places like the Detroit Zoo, Greenfield Village, and the Ford Museum as well as trips to the beach. Jean was always active in the lives of her children including as a member of the PTA and scouts. The Hall family was also very active in the First Congregational Church of Detroit. Pets were always an important part of Jean’s life, and over the years she had several cats and dogs.
For as long as she was able, Jean maintained an active lifestyle filled with her interests. She always surrounded herself with bright colors and projects. Jean could often be found at her library and loved studying metaphysics, and she also loved going out to eat. She remained independent for as long as she could, but when she nearly froze to death outside her home in Kalamazoo in January of 1999, it was quite scary. Thankfully, Jean was found by the paper carrier, and when she regained consciousness she looked up at the trees that were covered in ice and couldn’t help but think about what a beautiful world we have. As her family and friends can attest, Jean loved her clutter and wasn’t really able to part with anything. She loved watching her “soaps” on television and also enjoyed reading all kinds of things - including the tabloids! In addition, Jean was a whiz at puzzles and liked sewing.
Vibrant, fun-loving, and creative, Jean Hall brought the world around her to life. She was gracious, kindhearted, and generous beyond compare with a deep devotion to her family, her students, and the people within her community. Jean will be forever missed.
Jean Hall, of Kalamazoo, died on Friday, November 13, 2015. Jean’s family includes her 4 children: Roberta Jan Hall, Marlene (Jim) Sadler, Fred (Lillian) Hall, Harold (Lori) Hall; 6 grandchildren; 13 great grandchildren; and sister, Alberta Burson. Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Otto Hall, in 1973 and her son, Karl, in 2004. Funeral Services for Jean will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2016, at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Drive (375-2900) with a lunch to follow in the Life Story Center. Please visit Jean’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Park Place Assisted Living or Hospice Care of SW Michigan.