After many months of illness, my sweet grandfather passed away early Monday. He was the most godly, loving and compassionate man. He's been described as a true gentleman pastor and friend. I was extremely close to him and am who I am thanks to his shaping (and my parents and other grandparents of course). To know him truly was to love him. He didn't know a stranger. He exemplified Christ in all he did. If I turn out to be half the person he was, I will be blessed.
Shortly after we talked to my mom Monday morning, I pulled out my Bible to look for his favorite verse because I knew I had it written down. Ironically, the passage I opened to was the one above, 2 Corinthians 5:17. He had preached on this May 30, 2004. Over the past few days, these verses have popped up numerous times including as a local radio station's verse of the day yesterday. These words brought so much comfort. These verses are a testament to how he lived his life.
I wrote this late Tuesday night and it was shared at his funeral yesterday. He will be missed by all.
The Story of Our Bruce Hall
Bruce Allard Hall
1926 – 2014
To know Bruce Hall was to love him. And if you knew him, you know that he was a story teller. An amazing storyteller in my book. And today, I’d like to tell you a story to honor him.
Born in the late fall heat of 1926, he was the second of five brothers. He grew up on a farm in Maple right outside of Conway. He was a star student, quite athletic, handsome and graduated as the president of his class.
He worked his way through college at North Greenville and Furman all the while helping his family as much as he could. That’s because he was a helper and a giver.
After college, he hitchhiked across the country to Ft. Worth Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. There’s even a story written up about this hitchhiking journey in the Baptist Courier. Don’t worry, he was always sure to tell Stephanie and me about the dangers of hitchhiking today.
It was in Ft. Worth that he spotted a beautiful blonde woman who he immediately fell in love with when he saw her beautiful bright blue eyes. I’m so thankful that he saw her across the cafeteria that day. A few years later, they started their story when they were married in November, 1952. Their love story of the past 61 years of marriage is a storybook and one that I hope my own marriage emulates for our children and future grandchildren just as theirs has for us.
While he didn’t think his story would include moving back to South Carolina, it did. And he came here because the Lord called him to a church in Aynor. After a few years near his hometown, that chapter of his story closed and he started a new one right here at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. That story has continued until this day.
He loved his church, his family, his friends, and most of all, his Savior. For over fifty years, he’s impacted those all around him in this community, and while I’m here telling you this story of his, he’d be the first to tell you that this story is not his, it’s the Lord’s.
Bruce Hall taught me so many things throughout my life. His influence has shaped me, my sister, our parents and so many of you in this story that I call his incredible life. His fingerprints are all over my life. There’s not a day that goes by that doesn’t include something I do that isn’t influenced by him.
Most every memory of my life includes him in some facet and those memories and life lessons will stay with me throughout my life. He taught me so many things including how to drive – and on all those drives – you guessed it – there were stories. Afternoons of stories that I’ll cherish forever. He taught me that the glass is always half full, that good comes from all things, that faith and family come before anything else, that there is always good in the world, that little things matter, that memories are important, that love conquers all and so many other things, but the greatest thing he ever taught me is about our Savior’s love and amazing grace.
It is the love of Christ and His amazing grace that he was able to live his life – his story - the way that he did.
He didn’t meet a stranger and if he didn’t know you, he wanted to. And he wanted you to know His Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He wanted everyone to know that being a Christian isn’t about following some set of rules. He wanted everyone to know that Jesus loves them just as they are. And he wanted everyone to know how they could spend eternity in heaven.
I vividly remember the night I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord as a 9 year old little girl sitting on the floor of my pink room with my Bruce Hall by my side. The joy I felt that day has only increased in my walk with the Lord and that’s what Bruce Hall would want you to know. To know the Lord is to know joy. To know the Lord is to know peace. To know the Lord is the most incredible thing that you can do. And if you knew Bruce Hall, you’d know he’d tell you that to experience this incredible gift – this free gift – all you have to do is to ask Christ to live in your heart, admit that you are a sinner, confess all the wrongs in your life and to turn away from your sins. He’d tell you that God doesn’t expect perfection, He only wants our best. And Bruce Hall strove for perfection in all he did.
The story of his life is the greatest thing he’s ever taught me. And while he’s not here with us physically, his story hasn’t ended. It lives on in all of us and we all will continue to strive to live up to the legacy he has given us.
He was an incredible husband to Nana, a wonderful father to my mom and a spectacular Bruce Hall to Stephanie and me. And boy, did he love his boys – my dad, Kevin, and our sweet K.C. and Kaden. He was the light of our lives and the one we could always count on. Our best friend and confidant. He was our Bruce Hall.
I feel so blessed that the Lord allowed us to have him for all these years. We can smile today because we know that his life is now beginning. He’s realized all those things that’s he’s shared with all of us for all these years. He’s in heaven with his Savior and he’s celebrating. He’s lived every day of his life preparing for this day and working to build God’s kingdom. I know that the Lord smiled when he welcomed him home and as unbelievably painful as it is to not have him physically here with us today, we all know that he’s home. He fought the good fight, ran the race and he’s telling stories in heaven today.
So there you have it. The story of an unbelievably incredible man. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend and most of all, Son of God. From today forward, we’ll cherish the sweet memories we have of him and take the things he taught us and showed us and continue to tell his story – the story that’s not really his own – the story of Christ to those around us. And we want you to do the same because after all, that’s what he would want. To know him was to love him and oh how we love him.
Thank you, Bruce Hall, for your stories and most of all, for your love.
May 27, 2014