URBANA — William J. Hall, 94, died Tuesday (June 9, 2020) in Urbana.
Professor Hall was born in Berkeley, Calif., on April 13, 1926, a son of E. Raymond and Mary F. (Harkey) Hall. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Hubert H. Hall and Benjamin D. Hall.
He married Elaine Frances Thalman on Dec. 18, 1948, who survives him. Also surviving are their three children, Martha (Matt) Sigler of Dublin, Ohio, James (Melody) Hall of Thompson’s Station, Tenn., and Carolyn (Larry) Vandendriessche of Bentleyville, Ohio; four grandchildren, Andy (Kaitlin), Laura (Tim), Helen (Josh) and Lynn (Tom); and two great-granddaughters, Olivia and Sophia.
Bill loved spending time and taking trips with his immediate and extended family. As his children were growing up, summer vacations were spent in northern Minnesota fishing and enjoying the outdoors. Then in later years, the entire family would gather on the Monterey Peninsula, Calif., which was Bill and Elaine’s favorite vacation area.
Bill was raised in Lafayette, Calif., and was active in 4-H. After Bill’s freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley, he became a midshipman in the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, 1944-45, thereafter serving mostly in the Pacific war zone, and a short period at Kings Point. He was proud to be a World War II veteran. In 1948, he received his B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Bill received his M.S. degree in 1951 and Ph.D. degree in 1954 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He became a professor of civil engineering in 1959, and head of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1984 to 1991.
He retired as professor emeritus in 1993. In 1998, he was recalled to serve as interim director of the Research and Technology Management Office of the campus, dealing with patents, copyrights and intellectual property matters.
Bill was highly respected in the field of earthquake engineering, both in academia and in his professional practice. He wrote over 200 formal publications and 150 major consulting reports.
But most rewarding to Bill was transferring his knowledge and experience to his students. During his time at the university, he provided specialized advanced training to 120 of the graduate students who worked with him, including 30 who received their doctorates under his guidance.
Within the university, he chaired or served on numerous major committees, and was chair or an active member of numerous national and international technical committees. In 2004, Bill and Elaine established the William J. and Elaine F. Hall Endowed Professorship in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Bill served as a member of the design team for the Trans-Alaska petroleum pipeline. He also worked on earthquake-resistant design, high-speed ground transportation systems, seismic design criteria for nuclear power plants, and provided service to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Among many honors and awards, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was first to be awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award by the UIUC Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association.
He authored or co-authored numerous books and articles. His participation in an Honor Flight for WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., with his son Jim in 2012 was a highlight of his later years.
Bill was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, where he was an ordained elder, trustee and a Stephen Minister. A private graveside service will be held at a later time.
Memorial contributions may be made to the William J. and Elaine F. Hall Endowment Fund in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Foundation, Harker Hall, 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801, or to the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, 602 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801.