Kansas City civic leader Adele C. Hall, the wife of Hallmark Cards Chairman Donald J. Hall, has died. She was 81.
As elected officials, civic leaders and others learned of Hall's death Monday, glowing tributes began to pour in for the philanthropist. Adele Hall was called a great friend and civic leader whose ready smile and kind heart will be sorely missed.
Children's issues, the arts and political matters were among her diverse portfolio of interests, resulting from an outpouring of condolences to Don Hall and their family. She was known as a tireless worker who was genuinely committed to ensuring a brighter future for everyone and took strategic steps to fulfill her vision.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said Adele Hall's passions made the Kansas City area and the United States a better place to live.
"Simply put, she was a remarkable lady who brought a grace and elegance to everything she touched. The generosity that Adele and Don have bestowed on Kansas and the Kansas City region has impacted countless lives and causes. It will be a lasting legacy for Adele and her family," he said. "The heavens are a little brighter tonight because they have a shining star in Adele Hall. She will be so missed by so many."
Adele Hall collapsed and died unexpectedly Saturday at a home in Hawaii, Hallmark Cards spokesman Steve Doyal said Monday. Doyal said Hall had just finished breakfast with her husband and "was working on email when she suddenly felt lighted-headed and collapsed."
Adele Hall, born in 1931 in Lincoln, NE, had been married to her husband for nearly 60 years. The two met when she was 3 years old and he was 6 years old during a family vacation in Colorado. She loved Don Hall all her life and they married in 1953, the same year in which she graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in elementary education and English with plans to become a teacher.
Her family in Nebraska was deeply involved in the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations, fueling her interest in community service. Salvation Army officials in Kansas City were among the first to issue condolences Monday when word of her passing broke.
"This is a sad day for Kansas City and the country," said Maj. Charles Smith. "Adele Hall was a generous benefactor to numerous worthy causes in our community, including the Salvation Army. She had a true servant's heart and a beautiful soul. She touched the lives of so many people, and her compassionate and gracious spirit will be deeply missed."
Adele Hall was active in several Kansas City organizations, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and was a board chairman of Children's Mercy Hospital and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Hall also held leadership positions on several boards, including the United Negro College Fund, the Points of Light Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"This is a day of great sorrow," said Sarah F. Rowland, chair of the Nelson-Atkins board of trustees."We loved Adele dearly, and she and Don have made a profound impact on the museum and the entire community. For us, Adele was a pillar of generosity and support, and we will deeply miss her kind spirit and her leadership."
Adele Hall served on the museum's governing body for more than three decades and was a former board chairwoman.
She was named Kansas Citian of the Year in 1990, becoming the first woman to hold the title. She was also the first woman president of the Heart of America United Way and was a board chairman of Children's Mercy Hospital and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
Randall O'Donnell, president and chief executive officer for Children's Mercy, called her the hospital's greatest supporter and friend.
"There are not enough superlatives to describe our grief. Adele Hall was a true champion of Children's Mercy. She and her family have made numerous, significant gifts and she leaves a legacy of generosity and commitment to this hospital and community," O'Donnell said.
In addition to children's issues, she championed improvements for women. She co-founded the Central Exchange as an effort to help women network and enhance their careers.
"Adele was interested in a broad range of community needs with a special passion for the needs of children," Doyal said in a release. "She was tireless working toward those interests in any capacity needed - as visionary board chairman, energetic champion and catalyst for change, hard-working committee member, dedicated fundraiser or hands-on volunteer."
He said she was a consensus builder who let others claim credit while she got things done. Doyal said she moved easily from rocking babies at Children's Mercy's nursery to running board meetings and leading multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns.
"She was effervescent, gracious and compassionate, with an authentic interest and belief in the value of all people," Doyal said.
Roberts noted Adele Hall's political involvement, which included hosting presidents and presidential candidates at her Kansas City home.
"Adele's passion for politics has made our state and our country a better place to live. She was an adviser to presidents, governors, senators, members of Congress and many other leaders in her community. Her advice and guidance were invaluable to me, and personally, I will always owe her a debt of gratitude," the senator said.
Word of Adele Hall's passing came during a Chamber board meeting. A moment of silence was observed in honor of her memory.
"The entire room fell into stunned silence when it was announced," Jim Heeter, president and chief executive officer for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. "Her humility, her compassion and her extraordinary love for Kansas City and its residents was exceptional. Adele Hall was a truly wonderful human being and a great Kansas Citian."
She was a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Kansas City.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Stine & McClure Chapel, located at 3235 Gillham Plaza in Kansas City.
A celebration of life service will be 4 p.m. Monday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, located at 6401 Wornall Terrace.
Hall is survived by her husband, two sons and their wives, daughter Margaret Hall Pence and her husband, and nine grandchildren who called her "Nunu." She also had four-legged children named Holly, Benny and Cory.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any contributions be made to Children's Mercy, the Nelson-Atkins museum, Pembroke Hill School, the Salvation Army, the United Way of Greater Kansas City or Wayside Waifs.
Hallmark has created a website where you can leave condolences and memories. Click here.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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