Hall ‘touched a lot of lives’

Former teacher, coach passes away unexpectedly Friday

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What was thought to be a quick stay in the hospital turned into the shocking news Friday morning that E.D. Hall, a former Beddingfield High teacher and coach and former administrator in the Wilson and Johnston county school systems, had unexpectedly passed away at the age of 66.

Hall, who was Beddingfield’s first varsity baseball coach, was to have given the dedication at the 44th annual Wilson Hot Stove League banquet Tuesday, but the North Carolina Baseball Museum board member was unable to attend when he found himself in the hospital for an undisclosed illness. Several friends revealed that Hall had texted his regrets at missing the banquet — especially not seeing one of his former players, Charles Davis, receive the Clyde King Excellence in Coaching Award — and indicated that he expected to be home by the weekend.

As word of his death circulated Friday, his Facebook page was full of posts praising Hall as a teacher, coach, citizen and friend.

“He was just as good of a guy as you would find,” said Tommy Hawkins, who was the first athletic director at Beddingfield and coached American Legion baseball with Hall in the early 1980s. “He cared about every kid he coached or taught.”

Kent Montgomery, an N.C. Baseball Museum board member with Hall, said they first met playing basketball games at the Rec in the 1970s when Montgomery was a parks and recreation department supervisor and Hall was a young teacher and coach.

“I thought the world of E.D.” Montgomery said. “I loved him just like a brother because we played ball together and being on the museum board and helping with the (N.C. Baseball Museum Celebrity) golf tournament.”

Hall left coaching in 1984 when he took the job of computer-instruction coordinator for Wilson County Schools. He attained such professional positions as the president of the North Carolina Student Information Management Systems Users Association and to the national advisory board of McGraw-Hill School Systems. Hall was hired as an associate superintendent of Johnston County Schools in the mid-1990s and worked there until his retirement in 2009.

Davis, one of Hall’s players at Beddingfield who later went on to coach 27 years at C.B. Aycock High before retiring in 2017, was stunned at the passing of his mentor.

“No. 1, he was a players’ coach and I think that was one of the things that always stuck with me,” said  Davis. “He was very organized and very disciplined and he expected you to be the same way.”

Davis noted that Hall was the kind of coach that you just didn’t want to disappoint.

“You just respected him,” he said. “I got a lot of my organization skills from him.”

Davis recalled that when his Aycock team won the state 3-A championship in 2007 in Raleigh, his players celebrated by pouring the contents of the water cooler over their coach’s head.

“I turned around and there he stood with a towel and a hug,” Davis said of Hall.

Hall was a native of Stantonsburg, the son of Elizabeth and Ernest Hall Jr., who served on Stantonsburg’s town council in the 1980s. Hall graduated from Speight High in 1969 and obtained his math degree from Elizabeth City State University, where he was an honor student. His first teaching job was at Lee Woodard High, a few years before the Wilson county and city schools merged and Beddingfield opened. He was the assistant basketball and baseball coach under Willie Woodard and led the Panthers junior varsity basketball team.

“I got to know him about 1973 when he first came to Lee Woodard and I was in grade school. I actually grew up knowing him,” Davis said.

Hall took over the Lee Woodard varsity baseball program in the final year of the school’s existence as a high school in 1978 and then became Beddingfield’s first head coach the following spring. He was the J.V. boys basketball coach and varsity baseball coach at Beddingfield for six years before taking a job overseeing what was a burgeoning computer-based curriculum for Wilson County Schools in 1984.

But Hall’s relatively short stint as a teacher and coach at Beddingfield created lasting bonds.

“He was a great person and after the playing, he would keep in touch,” said Chris Proctor, who played baseball for Hall from 1981 to 1983. “If there was anything you needed, a job reference, or if your parents passed away, he was always there to step up. He never lost touch. You could call him to talk about sports.”

In his younger days, Hall also played alongside some of his former players with the Black Creek Dodgers and Stantonsburg Hawks semi-professional baseball teams. 

At Hall’s behest, an informal reunion of his Beddingfield players occurred at every Hot Stove League banquet in recent years.

Proctor chuckled at the memory of the time the coach took a group of Beddingfield players to Baltimore to see Hall’s beloved Orioles play and his car broke down on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. Ever calm and collected, Hall waited until it was safe to flag down help and get the disabled vehicle off the bridge.

Davis said that he saw his first NBA game with Hall, a Washington Bullets home game, and two Orioles games in Baltimore, where Hall’s sister lived and they stayed in her basement den.

“Just a strong Christian man and a very good role model for everyone,” Davis said.

Hall was known for working to help others. He was active in fundraising for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and through his fraternity, the Beta Beta Beta chapter of Omega Psi Phi. He was voted Beta Beta Beta’s Omega Man of the Year in 2017 and spearheaded the chapter’s annual fundraiser golf tournament, the J.M. “Bing” Miller Memorial, at Wedgewood Public Golf Course, combining two of his passions.

Proctor said that Hall’s retirement gift from Johnston County Schools was golf lessons and that bloomed into a love for the game. Hall also worked part-time at Wedgewood in retirement as a media specialist. Hall would post photos from his annual trips to the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro on his Facebook page.

Proctor joked that you never knew where you might run into Hall, who was an avid geocacher as well.

“You could go anywhere,” Proctor said with a chuckle. “You could go to a State game and look down on the front row and there was E.D. Hall!”

In recent years, Hall helped out as public-address announcer for Beddingfield home football games and lent a hand in a variety of ways to the Wilson Hot Stove League. There is no question among his friends, family or even just acquaintances that Hall will be missed.

“He’s touched a lot of lives, everything from sports to schools, to teaching to coaching,” Montgomery said.