Professor Emeritus William J. Hall has died
Professor Emeritus William J. Hall, 94, died on June 9, 2020, in Urbana, Ill.
Hall was born in Berkeley, Calif., on April 13, 1926, son of E. Raymond and Mary F. (Harkey) Hall. He was raised in Lafayette, Calif., and was active in 4-H. After his freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley, he became a midshipman in the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, 1944-45, thereafter serving mostly in the Pacific war zone, and a short period at Kings Point. Following the war, he enrolled at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, where he received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1948. He married Elaine Frances Thalman on December 18, 1948.
During 1948-49 he worked as an engineer with the SOHIO Pipeline Company, St. Louis, Mo., and in September 1949 entered graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Civil Engineering. He received his M.S. degree in 1951 and Ph.D. degree in 1954. Accepting a faculty position at the University of Illinois, he progressed through the ranks, becoming a Professor of Civil Engineering in 1959 and Head of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1984 to 1991. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1993. Beginning in 1990, while he was Head, the department was ranked first nationally by U.S. News and World Report. In 1998 he was recalled to serve as Interim Director of the Research and Technology Management Office of the campus, dealing with patents, copyrights and intellectual property matters.
As an Illinois faculty member, Hall’s teaching and research centered on structural engineering and specifically structural dynamics as it relates to structural behavior under various types of loadings. Hall was highly respected in the field of earthquake engineering, both in academia and in his professional practice. He wrote more than 200 formal publications and 150 major consulting reports. Within the university he chaired or served on numerous major committees, and was chair or active member of numerous national and international technical committees.
Most rewarding to Hall was transferring his knowledge and experience to his students. During his time at the university he provided specialized advanced training to 120 of the graduate students that worked with him, including 30 who received their doctorates under his guidance. In 2004 he and Elaine established the William J. and Elaine F. Hall Endowed Professorship in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Among his many major professional activities were the following: member of the design team for the Trans-Alaska petroleum pipeline; member of the group that upgraded provisions for earthquake resistant design in the United States; member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Committee on High Speed Ground Transportation Systems; participant in development of seismic design criteria for nuclear power plants for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; service to the U.S. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board; and service to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Among Hall’s numerous honors and awards were the following: election to the National Academy of Engineering, Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers; the Housner Award from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute; National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon; and University of Kansas College of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Service Award. He was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award by the University of Illinois Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association.
Hall was proud to be a World War II veteran. His participation in an Honor Flight for WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., with his son, Jim, in 2012 was a highlight of his later years.
Hall loved spending time and taking trips with his immediate and extended family. As his children were growing up, summer vacations were spent in northern Minnesota fishing and enjoying the outdoors. Then in later years, the entire family would gather on the Monterey Peninsula, Calif., which was his and Elaine’s favorite vacation area.
Hall was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, where he was an ordained elder, trustee, and a Stephen Minister.
Hall is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their three children, Martha (Matt) Sigler of Dublin, Ohio; James (Melody) Hall of Thompson’s Station, Tenn.; and Carolyn (Larry) Vandendriessche of Bentleyville, Ohio; four grandchildren, Andy (Kaitlin), Laura (Tim), Helen (Josh) and Lynn (Tom); and two great-granddaughters, Olivia and Sophia. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Hubert H. Hall and Benjamin D. Hall.
A private graveside service will be held at a later time.
Memorial contributions may be made to the William J. and Elaine F. Hall Endowment Fund in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Foundation, P.O. Box 734500, Chicago, IL 60673-4500, or to the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, 602 W Green St, Urbana, IL 61801.
Hall is also being honored with a named classroom on the first floor of the new addition to the Hydrosystems Laboratory, The William J. and Elaine F. Hall Classroom. To make a contribution, please visit our Modernization website.