Obituary of Rachel May Hall
Rachel May (Gardner) Hall
March 26, 1928 - January 28, 2020
Rachel May (Gardner) Hall died peacefully on January 28 in London, Ontario surrounded by her three children and granddaughter Rachel. Mother to Mary Beth (Vince), Donald (Martha), and Stewart (Diana), grandmother to Rebecca (Nicolas), Madeline (Mike), Bridget (Luke), Adam, Rachel, Lucas, and Kira, and great grandmother to SJ, Hattie, Chloe, and Orla. Pre-deceased by her brother Don Gardner and former husband Ross Hall. Rachel was loved and cherished by all who knew her.
Born in Vancouver, Rae grew up in the small, coastal town of Powell River, BC which provided an idyllic setting for a young child. Her parents, Arthur and May Gardner, were active in community and church. When she was in her early teens the family spent two years in Tasmania, returning to Canada in 1941, on the SS Monterey, the last civilian steamer to cross the ocean before the start of the war in the Pacific.
Rae earned her B.A. with a double major in English and Sociology from the University of British Columbia. During her university years, Rae met Ross Hall, a lanky UBC student from the Fraser Valley who got a summer job at the Powell River paper mill when he got off the ferry at the wrong stop. The two began dating, fell in love, and were married on September 8, 1950.
Shortly after the wedding the couple moved to Toronto where Ross studied Chemistry at U of T. There they enjoyed a close friendship with Ross’s older cousin, professor Marshall McLuhan and his wife Corinne, attending many dinners with Marshall’s diverse circle of colleagues.
More travel was to follow when Ross was accepted at Cambridge University in England for further graduate work. While Ross studied, Rae did mathematical calculations at the Cavendish Physics Laboratory (where the structure of the DNA molecule was to be discovered) earning enough money to enable them to visit London occasionally, tour within the UK (Rae loved the Cotswolds) and travel to several destinations in northern Europe, including a stay with friends in Trondheim, Norway, just south of the Arctic Circle. They were weekly theatre-goers and were invited once for afternoon tea with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace (along with several hundred other ex-pats from “the colonies”).
In 1953 they returned from England, spending just long enough in Vancouver and New York City to produce Stewart and Don, followed by nine years in Buffalo, New York where Mary Beth was born. The Buffalo years were happy ones for the young family where Rachel and Ross had an active social life and involvement in church. They spent summers at their cottage on Lake Erie, purchased with a surprise inheritance Rae received from a second cousin, Nora Broad, who befriended her in England. During these years, Rae went back to school earning her M.Ed. from Buffalo State University.
In 1967 the family returned to Canada, settling in Burlington, Ontario, where Rachel immersed herself in volunteer work at the high school, becoming a pioneering advocate for healthy eating – she was founding chairperson of the school Nutrition Committee and labelled by the Hamilton Spectator a “nutritional crusader.” Somewhat to their chagrin, her children went to school with sandwiches made from Rachel’s (very dense) homemade whole wheat bread, and yoghurt, long before these foods were common in modern Canada. In 1973 the family took a sabbatical year in France.
Rachel and Ross separated in 1975. Though a setback, Rachel made a new life for herself working as a beloved teacher’s assistant for children with learning challenges, and re-committing to her Christian faith. In 1992, Rachel moved to London Ontario to be closer to Mary Beth and to help her and husband Vince raise a growing family. In London Rachel was active in church and bible studies and volunteered in many realms including literacy, prison ministry, and Friends of the Library. She continued to be an active learner until well into her 80s, attending courses through the Society for Learning in Retirement. She also frequented the
London Free Press Letters to the Editor page with her insights, reasonings and occasional
polemics on everything from euthanasia to fast food to casinos.
Rachel was kind, patient, loyal and generous, offering unconditional love to her family and friends and donating her time and money to help those in need. She wrote and self-published her memoirs and A Legacy of Faith, stories about faith and the life of Christ told from her thoughtful, easy-to-digest perspective, primarily for the benefit of her grandchildren. Her faith was very important to her and comforted her in her final days.
A celebration of life will be held as a Zoom event on Sunday July 12 at 4:00 pm
For information please send an email to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Mary Beth at 519-671-7716.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Ark Aid Street Mission (arkaidmission.com) or Compassion Canada (compassion.ca).
The family would like to extend their appreciation to the caring staff at Dearness Home.