Cover photo for Gail J. Hall's Obituary
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Gail J. Hall

January 24, 1936 — June 22, 2024

Shaker Heights

Gail J. Hall

Gail Joanna Moan was born in Ingleside, California, the second child of Frank and Clara Moan. When Gail was five years old, her father eagerly accepted his twin brother’s suggestion to move to southwestern Oregon, where there was a booming logging industry and a need for more truck drivers. Gail grew up in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, with her older sister Pat and her younger sister Jeanette. Her uncle and aunt and three cousins lived close by. They were “stair step cousins,” with the two sets of children’s ages interwoven at one year intervals, creating fun among the wild blackberries, swimming holes and other joys of their rural environment. Other relatives also moved to the area, giving the Moan family a strong sense of connection that Gail valued tremendously throughout her life. 

Gail did not get to spend as much time in Myrtle Creek as she might have liked. When Gail started school, local school officials determined that she was “legally blind” and highly intelligent, concluding that the local schools were not prepared to give her the education that she deserved. So, at the age of six, Gail’s mother tearfully agreed to send Gail to the state boarding school for the blind, in the capital city of Salem. Despite missing her family during each semester, Gail thrived at the state school, ultimately learning to read and write and type, both in Braille and in print.  

As a teen, Gail was able to attend Myrtle Creek High School, where she developed an interest in music, playing clarinet in the school band. After graduating from high school, Gail became the first member of her family to attend college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1958 from the University of Oregon, concentrating on courses in Education and in Music. She completed one year of a Master’s degree program, studying Music Education at the University of Kansas before deciding that she should redirect her energy from research to a job. One of her teachers suggested that she interview for a music therapist position at the Cleveland State Hospital in Ohio, helping people with severe and persistent mental illness. 

With firm roots in Oregon, Gail was undaunted by the idea of moving farther east to Ohio. She had the good fortune of interviewing for the music therapist job in Cleveland with a young therapist named Harvey E. Hall, Jr. She got the job and proceeded to spend much of her free time with the other therapists, especially with Harvey. Within four months of starting to work together, Gail and Harvey decided that they should get married. They considered getting married in Harvey’s home town of Savannah, Georgia, to ease the participation of Harvey’s parents. However, in 1961, it was illegal for a white woman and a black man to marry, so they made a plan to elope in Ohio. Their friends chided them for their plan to elope and, instead, helped Gail and Harvey to arrange a small wedding at the First Baptist Church in Shaker Heights and a reception at the Glenville home of Harvey’s friend from his Oberlin College days, H. Leslie Adams (a budding composer who would later go on to win the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award). 

Shortly after getting married, Gail’s life changed direction. Budget cuts led to her being laid off from her job, just as she was about to have her first child, Harvey Franklyn Hall (known as “Frank” to distinguish him from two generations of Harveys). Three years later, Gail and Harvey welcomed their second child, Wayne Spencer Hall. Gail’s life was once again centered on family. Still, Gail knew that she had talents to share beyond parenting. She tutored neighborhood students at Beehive Elementary School. She was active in the PTA, sometimes hosting meetings in her home. While her visual impairment made driving impossible, she did not hesitate to use public transportation to attend meetings and events downtown, taking her children with her as needed. 

In 1973, Gail and Harvey decided to move to Shaker Heights, a suburb where residents were actively pursuing racial desegregation of schools and neighborhoods, a town where a “mixed-race” family would not feel out of place. In her new community, one known for excellent schools, Gail found more ways to support education, including typing and producing the Onaway Elementary School newsletter.

Gail was also a long time volunteer for the Cleveland Society for the Blind’s Sight Center. Through the Sight Center, she found a unique home-based job, transcribing monthly bank statements into Braille for the blind customers of Cleveland Trust Bank. 

When Gail’s sons were in their teen years, she decided to pursue more remunerative work, making sure she could help with any of her sons’ upcoming college expenses. Gail attended Cuyahoga Community College to earn a degree in Medical Transcription. Gail worked for several years at the Huron Road Hospital, doing medical transcription in their medical records office. 

Gail was fascinated by the word processing technology that she encountered as a medical transcriptionist. She was inspired to learn more about what was then the new technology of desktop computers. She was an early adopter of the “home computer.” She found a users group that helped her to learn more about using her computer for business and entertainment. She became an administrator of an online bulletin board service to help new computer users, another exercise of her love of education. Ultimately, when Gail became dissatisfied with the work environment at the hospital, she used her growing knowledge to develop a home-based business, doing medical transcription as an independent contractor for several local physicians. In the process, she became a great source of information for family members who wanted to understand more about their medical procedures.

Throughout her adult life, Gail continued to visit family in Oregon about once each year. In 2020, she made one last trip to visit her ailing sister, with the help of her son Frank and his wife Dianne. When not traveling, Gail made frequent use of Facebook as a way to keep up with family and friends … and to make sure people knew which political candidates aligned with her values of compassion and caring. A fellow church member was impressed by Gail’s online assertiveness, calling her “kind and direct.”

Gail was a woman of faith. She grew up with parents who had general Christian beliefs but no interest in church. However, Gail’s parents were compassionate people who were active in a community group of neighbors “Helping One Another.” During her college years, Gail was eager to learn more about faith and religion, attending various Christian churches, conversing with her Muslim roommate, and going to Bahai events, among others. She was happy to support her husband Harvey’s role as a church organist and choir director, first by attending Emmaus Lutheran Church, and later as a very active member of Trinity United Church of Christ on W. 25th Street in Cleveland. When the Trinity congregation disbanded in 2004 for financial reasons, Gail and Harvey attended Friedens UCC, where Harvey played as an interim organist in his retirement. In 2009, Friedens Church also disbanded. At that time, Wayne had just moved back to Ohio with his wife Jeri and their two sons. Gail and Harvey were happy to accept Wayne and Jeri’s suggestion that they all finally attend church in their own neighborhood—Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. At Plymouth, Gail was active in the knitting ministry, making hats and scarves for children in need and prayer shawls for members who were hospitalized. Gail was also active in the Plymouth Prayer Circle. Gail attended Plymouth regularly, thankful for the support that the church provided for her grandsons in their youth programs, grateful for the prayerful comfort that the church offered when Harvey died in 2018. 

Eventually, it became difficult for Gail to attend church, first due to the 2020 pandemic and then due to her own failing health. Still, Gail enjoyed periodic visits from Plymouth pastors, watching livestreams of services online, and communicating with other members through Facebook. Towards the end of Gail’s life, she enjoyed the weekly routine of singing each week’s church hymns with Wayne and Jeri and others who would visit her at Shaker Gardens Skilled Nursing Facility after church. On June 22, 2024, Gail died as Wayne and Jeri sang “In the Garden,” one of Gail’s favorite hymns.

Gail will be missed greatly by her son Frank and his wife Dianne Schubeck, Wayne and his wife Jennifer “Jeri” Gerard and their sons Joshua and Sean, her nieces and nephews and multiple generations of cousins, along with many fellow church members and friends.

Those who wish may make contributions in her name to Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights, 2860 Coventry Rd, Shaker Heights, OH, 44120, https://www.plymouthchurchucc.org/ where a Funeral Service will be held Saturday July 20th at 2 pm.

Upcoming Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, July 20, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights

2860 Coventry Rd, Shaker Heights, OH 44120

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