Jerome William Hall, dutiful husband and father, civil engineering professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, a garage workshop guru and a mentor to many, died Monday (July 8, 2019) at his home in Albuquerque. He was 75.
Jerry was a problem solver with a servant’s heart. He worked doggedly, used words sparingly, but gave generously of his time and expertise. He embodied the words of St. James: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
His work was highly technical but vital to anyone driving across New Mexico highways. In his 34 years teaching at UNM, including seven years as a department chair, Jerry equipped a generation of civil engineers with the skills to design safe roads and intersections. He also provided expert analysis of serious crashes to see if safety improvements were needed. Too often, to his dismay, the culprit was driver error -- a problem he couldn’t fix.
Born Dec. 1, 1943 in Brunswick, Ga. to William and Frances Hall, Jerry grew up in the Pacific northwest. He was an Eagle Scout, an altar boy and a paper boy who worked odd jobs to cover his tuition at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore., and later at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. In 1965 he earned his undergraduate degree in physics and captured the heart of Loretta Hood, a co-ed who became his wife of nearly 54 years.
Jerry earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering at the University of Washington, then taught for several years at the University of Maryland before making UNM his home. He hosted Thanksgiving dinners and even a wedding for foreign students in his program who had no family on this continent. For his tireless work supporting the professional development of others, he earned a lifetime achievement award in 2006 from the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Western district, and the organization established a scholarship for younger members in Jerry’s name. He also worked actively with the Transportation Research Board throughout his career.
He and Loretta raised three daughters, deputizing them all as workshop helpers as he built bunkbeds, tables and other things for the house. A weekend mechanic who once dreamed of working on a race car pit crew, Jerry upgraded the family Dodge van with telephones allowing the children in the backseat to annoy the parent in the front passenger seat on long roadtrips. And there were many summer roadtrips across the American West, with random stops for Jerry to take photos of signs and other traffic oddities.
Jerry was a lector and volunteer at Our Lady of the Annunciation and San Felipe de Neri before joining Immaculate Conception parish in 2016. He treated his kids, and later his grandkids, to homemade strawberry waffles. He preferred apple pie to any kind of cake, and told anyone who would listen not to bother with fussy wrapping paper and ribbons on gifts -- a practical brown paper bag would do just fine.
He is survived by his wife, Loretta; three daughters, Jennifer, Bridget and Bernadette; his sister, Nancy; eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and other relatives.
A Rosary will be recited on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 9:00 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, 619 Copper Ave NW, 87102.