TRAVERSE CITY — Millard "Norm" Hall, 88, died peacefully at Munson Hospice, Wednesday evening, Dec. 5, 2012, and although he went home to be with his Lord and his beloved Irene, members of his family feel certain he drove there in an old Mustang he called Little Red.
He was born in a house on Hall Ridge, high on the banks of the Ohio River, in Cave-In-Rock, Ill., on April 25, 1924, to Phrona Milligan Hall and Kenneth Hall. Although raised in foster care, he told wonderful stories of life on the farm with his sister, Vivian, and wild tales of the Hall relatives and a host of characters from town with names like Snap-Eye Tedlock and Uncle Wid. He and Vivian would milk the cows and do their chores before walking to the one-room schoolhouse and thought nothing of running bare-foot from copperheads across the fields to Grandpa's. Norm always had sugar in his pocket for the blue-black colt, Ribbon, and he knew the names of all the mules. Truth be told, he was just as stubborn.
Norm and Vivian moved to 13th and John R in the Detroit area when he was 12, where they lived with Grandpa and Granny Hall.
After he graduated from Royal Oak High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 25, 1943. He proudly served as an airplane mechanic at Navy Pier in Chicago.
He was blessed with five more sisters and a brother, Thelma, Frank, Alta, Judy, Sue and Gloria, and a dear stepmother, Louvain.
In his own words, he fell in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, Irene, and in 1949 they moved to Dearborn with their only child, Norma Irene Hall. Norm started his apprenticeship with Ford Motor Company, Aug. 26, 1949, and he retired from the Livonia Transmission Plant in 1980, when he and Irene started building houses, first at Burt Lake, then Eastport and finally they moved to Traverse City.
Fixing things and buying cars were twin passions. It didn't matter if he was fixing the hydraulic system of one of the huge machines at Ford or the bikes of all the kids in the neighborhood, who called him Mr. Norm. He loved cars and boats and fishing, and never missed an opportunity to be out on the water or hitting the highway to the Porcupine Mountains or the Columbian Icefields in the Canadian Rockies. The man owned 34 Ford vehicles.
Norm was also a wonderful daddy who spent hours driving around his daughter and her friends, whom he fondly called "The Belles of Dearborn."
And he was always horsing around with Norma's cousins. Somehow he would pick out a strength in each of us and help us believe in the best of ourselves. He found great joy with his granddaughter, Jyoti, teaching her to be still and let the birds and the squirrels come to her, and laughing at his grandson, Jason, who never was still and liked to ride around the yard on Papa's lawn tractor. Papa Hall never failed to hoot and holler when his great-granddaughter, Megan, would grab his wheelchair and pretend to run over his toes, and he felt blessed, we are sure, when he met his new great-grandson, Liam.
Every Sunday he and Irene would be at Northwestern Church of God in Detroit and then the wonderful congregation at Farmington Hills; and finally when they moved to Traverse City they were welcomed into the loving church family at Bayview Wesleyan Church. A heartfelt thanks goes out for all the visits, cards and letters over the past 10 years.
Norm is survived by his daughter, Norma Hall Zelenko, and his favorite son-in-law, John Zelenko; grandchildren, Jyoti Brianna Graham and Jason Daniel Zelenko; great-grandchildren, Megan Elise Graham and Liam Preston Miilu; sisters, Vivian, Thelma (Ray) Heathcott, Judy (Terry) Wilhelm, Sue (Luis) Arocho and Gloria (Mike) Slifka; cousin, Gerry (Ruth) Hall; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife, Irene; as well as his sister, Alta; his brother, Frank; and his dear brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
His family wishes to express their gratitude to the good people at Comfort Keepers, Glen Eagle and Munson Hospice. Special thanks goes out to his former neighbors, the Schrebes and the Bakers and his dearly beloved oncologist, Dr. Judith Ramsdell, who has given him a hug every year since 1983.
Here's to you, Daddy, from each of us who watched wide-eyed as you sprinkled "woofle dust" from your pocket and found a quarter behind our ear. We will always love you.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A celebration of life will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at the funeral home, with Pastor Matt Mabey officiating.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Munson Hospice.
Please share memories with the family at Norm's online guestbook at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
The family is being served by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.