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Obituary

Mark Louis Hall

August 27, 1963 - January 5, 2024

It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before. A far better resting place I go to than I have ever known.

Admiral James T. Kirk

Mark Louis Hall was born on August 27, 1963 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Margie May and James Loyd Hall. He was the youngest of three children. Mark grew up fascinated by American history, a love ignited in part by his father’s Marine Corps stories from the Pacific Theater of WWII. He developed a life-long passion for reading at an early age and spent many hours in libraries in the company of history books. As a child of the 1960s, Mark was captivated by the space race and idolized the astronauts of NASA’s historic moonshot. As the journeys of Apollo astronauts played out in news broadcasts, Mark’s imagination was simultaneously captured by a television program where humanity explored space three hundred years in the future. Star Trek became a life-long source of entertainment and comfort for Mark that he would share with his own children. He loved science fiction and particularly enjoyed Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Dr. Who, and The Twilight Zone.

Mark and his childhood friends built and battled countless model kits of starships, battleships, and classic cars. On one occasion, his skills with model paint were employed by his father to hide scratches on the family’s new car from his mother. It worked. In high school, he enjoyed participating on the debate team and was also known for being rambunctious. One wintry afternoon, he spotted his father walking across the street from his high school. Mark, perched in an upper story window, gathered snow from the ledge and began hurling snowballs at his father who dramatically flung himself against a building, feigning terror and injury. The next day, Mark was hauled into an irate principal’s office who sternly reprimanded him for terrifying “that poor old man yesterday.” Once he explained the “poor old man” was his father, all was forgiven.

In 1981, Mark graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls. That August he began working at Cook’s Office Supplies in the Empire Mall and was soon chastised by a coworker for dangerously blocking the stockroom door while on a ladder. Kay Danielson eventually relented to Mark’s charm and the pair hit it off. It wasn’t long before they began dating. Mark would help pass slow retail hours by recounting details of Civil War battles to Kay and leaving her love notes on display typewriters. Sometimes, she wasn’t the only person to find them.

After a date to the film Stripes, Mark was inspired to join the United States Army and enlisted in 1982. After completing basic training at Fort Benning, GA he was accepted to serve with the prestigious 3rd United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) in Washington, D.C. The couple reunited in Chevy Chase, MD where Kay found work as a governess and Mark began duties at Fort Myer, VA. He was assigned to the regiment’s Presidential Escort Platoon, Honor Guard Company. For the next four years Mark performed military burials at Arlington National Cemetery as well as ceremonial duties at the White House and earned several distinctions. Some highlights from his service with The Old Guard include:

· Team Leader to the First Presidential Casket Team
· Service to the First Presidential Casket Platoon
· Guard of Honor service for the interment of the Unknown Serviceman of Vietnam
· Flag folding for Lt. Commander Michael Smith, Pilot of the space shuttle Challenger
· White House ceremonial detail during presidential speeches and state visits
· Multiple peace time commendation medals for ceremonial proficiency with an 8-man casket team

One of Mark’s favorite stories while serving in The Old Guard occurred at the White House. President Reagan was returning to the Executive Mansion after participating in an official ceremony held on the South Lawn. As the president passed through the honor cordon, where Mark was standing at attention, a member of the press corps shouted a question. Unbeknownst to Mark, Reagan’s Press Secretary was standing directly behind Mark. Addressing his secretary, Reagan asked, “What should I say?” Mark, thinking the President of the United States had just asked him for advice, panicked! His eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, he chastised himself for neglecting to read the morning newspaper. As his mind raced, Mark heard the Press Secretary answer, “Just walk away, Mr. President.” At a later ceremonial event, a member of the press corps saw Mark and said, “Given the President any advice lately, soldier?”

While stationed at Ft. Myer, Mark exploited the proximity of the base to Civil War battlefields, taking Kay on memorable tours of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. He proposed to Kay in May of 1983, and on August 19th of that year, they were married in the historic Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer. The following year, they welcomed their first child, Lee, and in July of 1985, he was joined by boy #2: Adam. They, too, were whisked away to battlefields and historic sites.

Mark was honorably discharged from the Army in 1986, and the family moved back to Sioux Falls. In February of 1988, Kay gave birth to their third son, Alexander. After trying out various jobs without finding a decent fit, Mark was hired by Eastern Airlines in 1989. The family relocated to Potomac, Maryland, and he began working in ground control at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. There, he met some of his childhood NASA heroes, including Frank Borman (Gemini 7, Apollo 8) and Michael Collins (Gemini 10, Apollo 11). He also crossed paths with Robert Ballard, who had recently discovered the wrecks of the RMS Titanic and the battleship Bismarck. When Eastern Airlines went bankrupt in 1990, the Halls relocated to Vermillion, South Dakota, where they would spend the next decade.

In the spring of 1991, Mark enrolled at the University of South Dakota, where he graduated with a double major in History and Anthropology. His academic skills netted him several scholarships, including the Anna Goetz Scholarship (1992, 1993), the Joseph H. Cash “Excellence in Writing” Scholarship (1993), the Cedric Cummins Memorial Scholarship (1994), the Stephen Ward Service Citation (1994, 1995), and the John W. Addie Scholar Award (1994-1995). Mark also received several commendations for his writing, notably for his 1993 paper “To Cage a Tempest: The Political Ouster of Andrew Jackson,” which earned recognition from both Phi Alpha Theta and the President of the University of South Dakota. He also contributed several book reviews to “South Dakota History.”

While at USD, Mark was asked by one of his professors, a specialist on the archaeology of Little Bighorn Battlefield, to provide background military dialogue for a new audio tour of the historic site. To this day, you can still purchase the self-guided CD tour in the national monument’s gift shop. If you listen closely you’ll hear Mark barking out orders to the 7th Cavalry before yelping in agony, “Shot in the back!”

In August of 1996, despite wrangling three young boys and working full time, Mark and Kay graduated from USD with their bachelor’s degrees. After a brief stint in graduate school, he transitioned his career to retail management where he employed the efficiency and professionalism of his military training to keep things running “ship shape”. In August of 1998 Kay gave birth to their fourth son, Ethan. In 2000, she was hired as a producer for Nebraska Public Media (Nebraska PBS) and the family moved to Lincoln, NE.

Mark continued to manage retail stores and pursue his lifelong hobby of perusing the shelves at bookstores. He was an especially frequent visitor to Bluestem Books in Lincoln and Jackson Street Booksellers in Omaha. Mark became such a regular at Bluestem that the owners would leave him the store keys so they could run errands. Mark loved collecting models and historical paraphernalia, including flags and patches. He and

Ethan could often be found visiting hobby stores, and they made friends with Omaha’s “Train Man,” the late Ron Beranek. Beranek had been one of the staff members of the Omaha Sun to receive a 1973 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the financial assets of Boys Town. Boys Town was special to Mark as his father spent several years under the care of Father Flanagan in the late 1930s.

He never lost his love for history, Mark treated his home library with the reverence of a shrine. His meticulously curated shelves held pristine titles on Lincoln, JFK, Grant, and others. He had a particular love for bald eagles and decorated his library with paintings and sculptures of the National Symbol. He enjoyed spending his time reading and catching reruns of Star Trek or Doctor Who. More recently, recovery from knee surgery had given him time to rediscover his love of playing video games with his sons. As children, they had cherished their time playing Super Nintendo and PlayStation titles with their dad (often beating him into quitting). Automobile racing games were always a favorite of his, and his “gamer rage” was on par with that of his kids (they had to get it from somewhere).

Mark’s passing has left a chasm in the hearts of his family. He will be remembered for many things, from his steadfast devotion to historical truth to his mischievous sense of humor. He imparted a deep love for film scores, science fiction, and history to his sons. His clarity of recollection for battlefields, whether physical or political, never waned, and he was a captivating storyteller to the last. For a man who so dearly loved history, perhaps there is no better conclusion to this epitaph on his life than, “Now he belongs to the Ages.”

Mark is survived by his darling wife, Kay, and beloved, loyal sons: Lee (Ashley) Hall, Adam Hall, Alexander Hall, and Ethan Hall; delightful grandson Dallas Brady; best sister ever, Pam Erickson; devoted nephew, Steven Erickson; endearing niece, Amy (Craig) Markham; and extra-special grand-nephew, Nathan Markham.

Preceded in death by his parents James Loyd and Margie May (Goodroad) Hall and brother, Gary Hall.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, June 15, 2024 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Roper and Sons South Chapel (3950 Hohensee Dr.)

Interment to follow at a later date at Black Hills National Cemetery.

Memorials to the family for future designation. Condolences online at www.roperandsons.com

Services

June15

Celebration of Life

CST

Roper & Sons South Chapel

3950 Hohensee Drive (40th & Yankee Hill)
Lincoln, NE 68516

(402) 261-5907

Share a Memory or Condolence

January 19, 2024

We had some good times, Dad. Through thick and thin we stuck together til’ the end. You weren’t just only a father to me, you were also my best friend. I will cherish all those moments we’ve spent 25 years together… Just wish we had another 25 more. Thank you for everything, Dad. Rest easy now, ya hear?

– Ethan Hall
January 15, 2024

Hi all, We’ve set up a GoFundMe for Mark. Please donate if you’re able: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mark-hall-memorial-fundraiser Thank you all for your sympathy and memories, The Hall Family

– Ashley Hall
January 15, 2024

It’s really hard to believe. We had so many laughs and good times together. He was fun to work with.

– Trudy Gill
January 11, 2024

I worked with Mark at Shopko. He was a wonderful Boss. He thought of others all the time. He was so kindhearted and he loved to be funny. He made it enjoyable to be at work.

– Deb Richardson
January 11, 2024

Mark was not only one of my brother’s best high school friends/classmates, he was also one of my best friends in high school. I have many fond memories of hanging out with him/my brother on weekends or during debate tournaments (and he was great at arguing logically, especially when teaming up with me against my brother!). Mark was always fun to be around, social, articulate, smart and just a great human being!…I will miss him. Rest in peace, Mark!

– Mark Gaul
January 11, 2024

A honest and caring manager that I enjoyed working for at Walmart.

– Cole Dittmer
January 10, 2024

I worked with Mark many years ago at Walmart. He always made me laugh with his funny antics. Often we would get in trouble for being too ornery. One of the best coworkers to along side of & I have the best memories of those few years with him. Rest easy Mark.

– Michelle Endorf-Neff
January 10, 2024

Of all the managers at Walmart, he stood out the most to me. Fair and socialable. I will miss him.

– Mike Dondlinger

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