Kent LaRue (White) Hall

Kent L. Hall passed away January 28, 2021 surrounded by his children Terry, Mike, Cathy, and Joe. He leaves behind his love of marriage, family, a philosophy to do the right thing even when it is difficult to do, an eye for practical elegance, craftsmanship, and a dedication towards continuous improvement. Kent, consequently lived life his way. Kent was a loving and caring husband to Myrt for 64 years who preceded him in death in October 2019. Dad and Mom (aka Mr. Fix It and M&M) were united in every way referring to each other as ‘we’ when sharing tasks and stories. Near the end, Kent instructed Mike to encase Myrt’s urn in a fiberglass covered cardboard box. Dad credited Mom for all the good that was bestowed on his life after they married in 1955. He said, “I don’t want her to get wet. I don’t need anything.” We disagreed and Dad suggested, “well, you can put me with Mom.” Covid had put a crimp on burying Mom, so we honored ‘their’ wish and both will lie together and never get wet.

Kent was born in Kingsbury County, South Dakota, March 31, 1932. He moved to Lebanon, Oregon with parents, Earl M. Hall and Fern Hardy (Hall) when he was 4 years old. His parents divorced after moving to Oregon. His mother married Pat White, a plumber, who adopted him and sister Kay. His name changed to Kent L. White. Pat, Fern, Kent, and siblings, Kay, Maurie, Ronnie, Gail, and Jimmy moved to Toledo, Oregon in 1945. His mother, Fern, died during the summer of his junior year in high school.

Kent always spoke fondly of his mother. Fern shaped Kent’s creativity which can be traced back to when he was a young boy. She would stitch used tissue paper patterns into booklets and Kent would draw in them while she sewed clothes. He developed an inclination to solve problems by sketching them out. There is a story that Kent helped out a few of classmates (teammates) with drafting assignments. The 1949 Toledo High School Coast Valley Football Championship trophy lists all the teammates, including center Kent White. Kent played basketball and was scouted as a leftie even though he wrote right handed. He was junior class president. His sister, Kay, would say jokingly, “Kent had to have a drawing to the bathroom!” He carried on his mother’s approach of repurposing materials, too. Honestly, it was hard for him not to throw away useful materials.

In addition to sketching, Kent was influenced by his mother’s resourcefulness. She grew flowers and made bread; he made pies and decorated birthday cakes, Easter Bunny cakes, and raisin scones even into his 80s. She decorated parade floats and entered Kent & Kay in costume contests; he made Halloween costumes for his kids and story poles for his grandkids. He also had a sense of humor that came from his Mom and Aunt Vi’s shenanigans. He always had a tickler list of projects to work on which included building fishing poles, ‘scent-o-meter’ for quick fish lures, a screen enclosed outside fire pit with damper and stack, a geoduck clam gun, a clam steamer cleaner basket, dungeness crab tongs, multiple rings within lawn dart rings, West & East Newport bathroom signs for a Robertson-Hall reunion, a bicycle wheel truing stand and during Covid, an artist gravity easel. He had exquisite penmanship skills, so was often the official scorekeeper of many card games. Kent was good at table games and skilled at snooker. In high school, he would practice on the big table to be dialed in on the regular one. He liked to be challenged and be precise. His eye for detail was like feeling the sweet spot of a ball on a bat, watching him run the pool table, hearing a perfect cast, or swooping up a salmon in a net followed with a smile of satisfaction.

After high school, Kent served in the navy from 1951-55. Pearl Harbor was his main port and he served predominantly on the USS Mender, a salvage lifting vessel. He was a diesel mechanic and earned EN-2 classification. Kent learned plumbing skills from Pat and helped his step-dad plumb Toledo Mary Harrison School while on leave from the Navy. All four of his kids and two granddaughters attended this school plus two nieces and a nephew. Kent carried a Phillipine note and wrote every port on it that he entered during his travels all over the south Pacific. The USS Mender, which means one who repairs or restores to good condition, was the smallest ship in the navy, only 225 feet long. Mender defines Kent to a tee! Kent would spend his spare time tinkering in the Mender machine room. He often referred to the machine room as his classroom. The USS Mender participated in Operation Castle in 1954. He never mentioned this detail, but had many salvage stories including being at the same place, same time as his future best man, Lawrence Neal, but they never connected in person. Kent was on water and Lawrence was on land. When he returned to Toledo, Myrt and Kent announced their engagement. Everyone wondered who Myrt was marrying. Who is Kent Hall? Mystery solved after folks showed up to their wedding. After serving in the navy, Kent had his name changed from White back to Hall.

Ongoing learning and continuous improvement were central to Kent’s being. He continued to hoan in on his drafting, construction, and design skills. He graduated from Oregon State University in Engineering using the GI Bill. During his senior year in 1959, he drew house plans for one of his professors which was later built for the professor’s home. He drew many sets of house plans then and after while he attended OSU. He was even called out during a final exam by a different professor to verify his work! He didn’t have to show much to prove he was the real deal. He was a resource for numerous family construction projects and he enjoyed all of them immensely, especially helping his parents-in-law, Hank & Anne Robertson. Myrt’s parents were folks he had deep admiration for and they treated him like a son. Kent and Myrt loved the trips to Washington state to clam and crab with Myrt’s first cousin, Lawrence, wife Mattie, and Myrt’s brother, Bob and wife Carolyn. The three couples spent many extended weekends at Lawrence & Mattie’s cabin on Hood Canal. Kent loved these visits to feast and work near the water to make the excursion fun and enjoyable for all.

Kent worked at Georgia-Pacific Toledo as a lead engineer for over 45 years retiring in 1995 with credit for work with CD Johnson and military service. Kent was a jack-of-all trades engineer. He was a stickler for writing clear plans and documentation, so it could be easily carried out in the field. While on vacation from GP, Kent designed ‘their’ home at 1655 SE Hillvale Lane, Toledo, Oregon. He made three sets of house plans with specs, working out the cloud in the sky stuff, like the dumb waiter. Kent & Myrt settled on a set of plans that was affordable and elegantly practicable. This set had an unfinished basement with a shop which over the next decade was completed to become a haven for his family with card, pool and ping pong tables, a telephone booth (requested by Myrt), a darkroom (Kent & kids), and wood stove insert (all) and two additional bedrooms. His own home is a prime example of how he loved working on projects that solved problems and made lasting improvements. He served on the New Lincoln Hospital Board during the time it closed its doors. He worked to change a state law to have the building sales after bills paid returned to the district recipients who supported the hospital vs going into the county general fund. He was all for working smarter, not harder and doing the right thing.

Once the darkroom was finished, Kent touched others with his sports and family photography of graduations, reunions and weddings. He and his kids would develop film and print photos after a Friday night football game to share Monday morning at school. In the beginning it was covering his own kids’ sporting events with classmates, then his grandchildren in school and college. At first the process was black and white, then color prints from Walmart, then digital. Kent captured the athlete in motion to tell a story and he was really good at it. He had an eye for observation and he understood the games. He has photos in several yearbooks of his children, nieces, and nephews. He traveled 15,000 miles in 2017 taking photos at the age of 84 of his granddaughter and teammates’ senior year of D2 softball games. He regularly would shoot baskets during commercials of Trailblazer games, to help them out. Near the end, he was determined to watch Tom Brady one more time, to see if Tom could do it again and make it to the 2021 Super Bowl. He said Brady has a special move right before he casts it off. Kent had a connection to football all through his life even picking number 82 from the class of 79 Toledo High School football jerseys. He always had a camera in his hand going back to days he was in the Navy.

Kent was interested in many things. If there was a need to learn about it, to do a project or minimize maintenance, he took it on. Kent’s double garage door is still original because he could easily maintain it by his varnish spraying method. He learned how to fiberglass to repair his Bayliner and GMC pickup. He wanted a wood stove, so he learned how to weld and converted the downstairs fireplace into a wood stove with a fan. He grew a few fruit trees, so he learned about mason bees. He turned wood, so he learned about treating Oregon Myrtlewood and turned beautiful pieces including bowls with matching lids, rolling pins, and vases. The wood came from Myrt’s sister-in-law’s family, Mary, of Myrtle Point, Oregon. The Myrtlewood Robertson-Hall Reunion plaque was designed by Kent to preserve the history of Hank & Anne’s love of family gatherings. He has been an uncle to Rhonda and daughters Amanda and Leslie; Jeff and sons Eric and Ryan; Lori and daughters Christina and Kimberly; Jodi and children Lauren, James and Sean; Amy and children Matthew and Abby; Tom; Ted; Angie and children Ben and Mary Beth; Tim and children Lizzy and Victoria; Randy and children Nicholas, Vincent, Rose, and Dominique. The Robertson-Hall Reunions were gatherings he dearly looked forward to each year.

Kent fished the Yaquina and Siletz Rivers annually for more than 50 years years with Myrt and family for steelhead and chinook. He spent the last 35 years fishing at Coyote Rock and Fun River. Ralph and Bernadine brought loads of firewood over these years which were enjoyed by family and fishing neighbors. He thought of Ralph as a brother. He traveled to Alaska several times and saw many unique places including polar bears in ANWR, fished for king salmon at Goose Creek and walked in Katmai NP observing coastal brown bears. He was so inspired by the design and construction of the Alaska Pipeline. He exclaimed, “what a project!”

During his entire career at GP, he would come home and eat lunch with Myrt each day. When the Italian prunes were ripe, he would grab a few from his car window on the way down the hill back to work. After work, he would shoot a few hoops with his kids, do some outside chores, play some chess after dinner and settle down in a chair with a sketchbook on his lap. He always had something in the works on his drafting board, sketchbook, and tickler list. Kent cared for Myrt who had a colostomy for 15 years and initially told her, “Myrt, this is going to be ok. This is a plumbing problem.” Together they had this life changing device down to a science. During the year of COVID, Kent drew the design of their cemetery flats. This was one of the last things he worked on from his table. The home he built and lived in for 51 years was never static. His last sketch was a small urn to hold Myrt’s ashes drawn on an envelope.

Kent was resilient and lived by a sense of possibility. He told his kids to keep from getting seasick, look forward to a point on the horizon. He was a sailor and had a love for water, fishing, and the ocean. He told his kids not to be afraid of mistakes. He said, “I always tried to do the right thing.” Mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve. He knew that fixing on a point on the horizon was a way to survive the storm to come.

Kent was preceded in death by his wife, Myrtle Marie Hall (Robertson), his mother Fern White (Hardy), his infant sister Elizabeth White, his father Earl M. Hall, brother Maurie White, brother Ronnie White, nephew Kevin Reisen. Survivors include daughter Teresa Ann Hall; son Michael Steven Hall and wife, Julie and grandchildren Kerry and Megan, and husband Caleb and great-granddaughter Payten; Catherine Louise Cadwallader and husband, Don and granddaughters Sammi and Jesse; Joseph Allen Hall and wife, Vicki and grandchildren Katie and Tyler. Survivors include sister Kay Anderson of Lebanon, OR and niece Kim Anderson and son Josh Bacher; nephew Jon Anderson and daughters Julia and Emily; niece Kasi Anderson and sons Will and Kyle; and niece Keri Anderson and sons Kevin and Michael; brother Jim White of Albany, OR and nieces Jennifer and Justine; and sister, Gail Reisen of Kettle Falls, WA and nephew Ken and niece Kelly.

The family would like to thank Newport Samaritan Hospital and Evergreen Hospice for its thoughtful service and care. In lieu of flowers, please consider a tribute donation to City of Hope, https://www.cityofhope.org/. Kent’s family would like to invite relatives and friends to his Celebration of Life, August 14, 2021 at AWPPW Union Hall, 138 NW 1st St, Toledo, OR 97391, from 11am - 2pm.

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