Ralph Moody Hall, born May 3, 1923, lived his life fully and completely until he died peacefully in his home on March 7, 2019. Born in Fate, Texas, one of three children, Ralph lived in Rockwall, Texas where he graduated from Rockwall High School in 1941. After graduation, he joined the United States Navy on December 10, 1942, serving as an aircraft carrier pilot from 1942 to 1945 during World War II, attaining the rank of Lieutenant. After the war, Hall attended Texas Christian University and The University of Texas from 1946-1947, receiving a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1951. Ralph was elected Rockwall County Judge in 1950 at the age of 27, while still in law school, becoming one of the youngest county judges ever elected in the State of Texas. From 1958-1959, Hall served as the President of the State Judges & Commissioner’s Association. In 1962, he was elected to the Texas State Senate where he served until 1972, serving as President Pro Tempore in 1968-1969. In 1972, Hall ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Texas and left politics to continue his career as an attorney and businessman. During this time, Hall became President & CEO of Texas Aluminum Corporation and was the founding member and Chairman of Lakeside National Bank of Rockwall. He also continued to build his law practice with his longtime friend and law partner, Don Stodghill. Although he was a very able and successful attorney and businessman throughout his life, his family recalls that during this eight-year absence from politics, he wasn’t really satisfied or fulfilled.
In 1980, he was elected to Congress and continued his lifelong desire of serving the public, representing the 4th Congressional District until 2015. He described himself as “an old-time conservative Democrat” and for many years, he was one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. Despite the 4th District’s increasingly Republican tilt, he won multiple terms as a member of The Democratic Party with an average of 60% of the vote. By the 1990’s, he was the only elected Democrat elected above the county level in most of his district. Believing he had an obligation to continue to pull his party back to the middle, he was one of the co-founders of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate and conservative Democratic congressmen. Finally, in 2004, Hall switched parties and became a Republican, believing this best served the views and needs of his constituents in the 4th District as well as his own personal conservative philosophy. He also cited his support and admiration for his friend President George W. Bush, believing he could better support the President as a Republican. After the switch, the Republican Party allowed him to keep his seniority and he became chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. He also joined the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans. He served as the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology from 2011 to 2013. He was also a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
At age 91, Hall was the oldest serving member of Congress and at the end of his last term in office, he was the oldest person to ever serve in the House of Representatives, the oldest person ever elected to a House term and the oldest House member ever to cast a vote. He and Michigan Congressman, John Dingell, were the last two World War II veterans serving in Congress. During his tenure, Hall spent much of his time in his District visiting with constituents and helping with their problems. Rising above party labels or concerns, Hall was always proud to point out that regardless of party, he voted the way his District thought, saying, “I’d rather be respected at home than liked in Washington.” Ralph married Mary Ellen Murphy in 1944 while he was serving in the navy in Pensacola, Florida. Ralph and Mary were married for sixty four years before her death in August of 2008. Ralph was a member of The First United Methodist Church of Rockwall for 85 years.
Ralph is survived by his children, Hamp and wife Jody, Brett and wife Karen, and Blakeley and wife Catherine. He is also survived by grandson, Jay Hall and wife Katherine, granddaughters, Sarah Hall, Amanda Hall, Crystal Kemper and husband Kyle, grandson, Steven Lule and wife Leanna, and great-grandchildren, Caden Hall, Blakeley Kemper, Theodore Kemper and Kendall Kemper. Ralph is also survived by a nephew, Mark Scott and wife Vickie and children Haley and Alec. Ralph was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellen, his brother, Hugh Hall, sister, Rosemary Hall Scott, nephew, Hugh Hall III and niece, Rebecca Jeannes.
The family expresses their extreme gratitude to the caregivers who took care of Ralph for the past four years, Gloria Melendez, Paula Gonzales and Sherry Combs, all of whom became part of the family. Ralph’s life was defined by helping others with their problems, no matter how big or how small. He was a great advocate and communicator for people both as a trial lawyer and in politics. Ralph led a colorful full life, once claiming to have served food to Bonnie & Clyde while he was a youth working at the Rockwall Drug Store. He also later worked as a promoter in boxing for a period of time in the 1960’s, claiming to have had an opportunity to invest in a young Muhammed Ali, which he passed up because he was advised that Ali couldn’t take a punch. Hall was also a member of the Masonic East Trinity River Lodge No. 157 as a 33rd Degree Mason receiving his 70-year pin in 2018. Ralph loved all people and he loved his family and his hometown of Rockwall. He opened many doors and created many opportunities for many people including his friends and family.
Funeral services will be held 2:00 pm Saturday, March 16, 2019, at First United Methodist Church, 1200 East Yellow Jacket Lane, Rockwall, TX 75087. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Memorial Park. A gathering of family and friends will be held Friday evening at The Gathering at Rest Haven Funeral Home, 2500 State Highway 66 East, Rockwall, TX 75087 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.