Always a survivor and a lover of adventure, Lois Gillis Hall made a choice in 1961 following the deaths of her husband and her mother. And it wasn’t to “retire” quietly.
Hall began a journey that lasted more than 26 years – one trip, then another, then another. Her excursions included two world tours, sites in all 50 states, Europe a dozen times, southeast Asia and Russia twice, and China. Visiting the Great Wall of China at the age of 83, she claimed she “out walked the entire tour group.”
Her home was filled with mementos of her trips, her collections and books. Her collections included old and rare books, Russian lacquer boxes, Lalique glass, Belleck, porcelain and her mother’s seven dozen sets of dishes. She also collected horses, unicorns and kaleidoscopes.
She was a member of the Presbyterian Women Esther Circle, the Redbud Club and the Early American Glass Club. Her philosophy in life included helping others whenever possible and being loyal to friends.
Hall was a Christmas baby, born on Dec. 22. It was too close to the holiday, so her mother solved the problem with a celebration each June. She celebrated her 101st birthday in style with neighbors, fellow church members and club friends. Her earliest memories include vivid images of OCW from 1915-18.
Accompanied by a mother determined that her daughter received a college education, she entered OCW as a freshman in 1915. Her mother set up house in a furnished home rented in town. The family members would return to Frederick when possible where her father was the doctor. Her sister Fern also attended the preparatory school connected with the college.
The two sisters traveled to the college each day by streetcar, carrying lunches which they would eat with the other town girls while sitting on the south steps of the Administration Building.
Studies were always important to Hall who majored in English, math and art, with a minor in modern languages. Her noon hour was spent doing translations after her meal was complete. The 21 and a half units she earned in high school allowed her to take advance standing examinations. She was able to finish college in three years.
She would later attend six other institutions of higher education, but the best educator she ever studied with was Laura Lynn Garrison, her English instructor at OCW. “If I picked out the best teacher at the seven universities I attended, and I had some famous teachers, it would be Laura Lynn Garrison at OCW. If she ever said one single thing that I found out later wasn’t so, I don’t know what it was. She knew what she was teaching. She was an inspirational teacher besides being very precise and positive about what we could and could not do.”
Following graduation, Hall returned to her hometown of Frederick, where she taught English and history for one year. Her sister would begin her freshman year in 1918 at OCW. After suffering a burn in a laboratory and developing bursitis in her shoulder, she dropped out after Thanksgiving. Hall also taught in Dewey. She spent a summer at the University of Chicago, where her father had studied.
After earning her master’s in one year, she taught English at Northeastern Oklahoma State University and served as department head for 19 years and as the dean of women.
In 1931 she married Thomas Aldis Hall, a former student who had returned to college to finish his degree after a career in journalism was brought to a halt by the Dpression. He would later receive his master’s and doctorate degrees from OU before beginning his own college teaching career.
Hall was named to the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997. She died in 2005 – just short of her 109th birthday. The scholarship was established by Myrtle Stevens to honor the 1918 graduate and is open to any USAO student. Back to Scholarship Page