Monday, July 20, 2009

Dick Hall Dead at 78

Jerry Clark has informed me (well, UFO UpDates) that Dick Hall, one of the reasoned researchers of the UFO field, has died of cancer after a long fight.

Hall was born on Christmas, 1930 in Hartford, Connecticut graduated from the Gilbert School, a high school in Winsted and in 1949, he enlisted in the Air Force to avoid being drafted in the Army, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He served on active duty until early in 1951 and then spent six years in the Air Force Reserve. Some of his active duty was spent at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

After the military, he attended Tulane University in New Orleans, first as a math major and later as a philosophy major with a minor in math.

He spent most of his life in the Washington, D.C. area working for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, one of the first large, international UFO organizations. He worked full time for NICAP, first as an executive secretary, then an assistant director and finally acting director. While there he was largely responsible for the 1964 book, The UFO Evidence, which was an examination of the best UFO cases presented to that time. In 2001 he wrote the sequel to The UFO Evidence which covered the period from 1964 to the 1990s.

Later he served as the chairman of the Fund for UFO Research. He was also, in the late 1970s into the 1980s, the editor of monthly magazine for MUFON that eventually evolved into the MUFON UFO Journal. For a number of years he wrote a column for UFO magazine called "Reality Check."

More recently, he was the chief editor of the Journal of UFO History, published six times a year. He had continued to offer advice, criticism and wisdom to those who asked. He was often the voice of calm in what could sometimes be the very belligerent world of UFO research.

When he wasn’t involved in UFOs, he was studying the Civil War and published a number of magazine articles and a book about women who fought in the war. He would want it known that he was also a science writer and that he edited technical reports on social science and the environment.

In Ron Story’s The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters, Hall published a position statement that is still relevant today. According to Hall, "Among the hundreds of so-called 'UFO reports' each year, a sizable fraction of those clearly observed by reputable witnesses remain unexplained – and difficult to explain in conventional terms. There is a modicum of physical of physical evidence, radar cases, residual cases and some films – and photographs in support of the unexplained cases... In answer to the skeptical objection that the alleged unexplained cases have not been thoroughly investigated, that is exactly my point. They should be. The circumstantial – and sometimes physical – evidence indicates something real is going on for which no satisfactory explanation currently exists."

Dick was, of course, more than just a champion of the UFO. He was a friend to many and while our paths crossed rarely, he was always the gentleman. He was true to his word and our email exchanges were always cordial, even when we disagreed about conclusions.
Larry W. Bryant, like so many, had worked with, known, and respected Dick Hall. He wrote, about his memories of Dick Hall in a post to UFO UpDates, reprinted here with permission:

A phone call to me this afternoon (July 17, 2009) from UFO researcher Dan Pinchas of Germantown, Md., brought news of the death of one of ufology's giants: Richard H. Hall, 78, of Brentwood, Md.
For at least a year, I'd known that Dick had been recovering from colon-cancer surgery, but he counseled me not to spread that knowledge. By e-mail several months ago, he'd told me he was doing okay. Now, I learn that he'd been undergoing chemotherapy. He apparently died in his sleep this morning.
Seemingly right up to his last moments, Dick was pursuing his ufological calling, for it's been only several weeks since my receipt of the latest issue of his bimonthly newsletter Journal of UFO History.
My association and friendship with this consummate scholar date back to November 1957, when I met him for the first time at the Washington, D. C., headquarters of the now-defunct National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). There, as I sauntered into the front office, I spied him with his head down and eyes focused on a piece of correspondence he intently was typing upon a manual typewriter.
Eventually, Dick became a role model for my own baby steps as a UFO researcher-activist. He not only wrote well and fluently; he also had a keen hand at line drawing. Noted mostly for his seminal two-volume work The UFO Evidence, he also had edited the NICAP newsletter (The UFO Investigator) and some of the organization's special reports. His two books on the subject matter (The Challenge of Unidentified Flying Objects (with Prof. Charles A. Maney - 1961); and Uninvited Guests (1988)) remain collector's items.
His other major contributions to the field derived from his service on the board of directors for the Fund for UFO Research, Inc. At separate periods, he also served as editor of the monthly journal of the Mutual UFO Network, Inc., and as a columnist for the monthly newsstand periodical UFO Magazine.
Besides his UFOlit products, Dick managed to publish a small handbook on raising house plants, plus an overview of the role of women in America's civil war.
Dick Hall's commitment to serious UFO research and his high standard of personal achievement in the field began during his student days at Tulane University, where he majored in philosophy. I take delight in possessing copies of his self-published newsletter from that early period - the UFO Critical Bulletin. Critical thinking (and action), you see, became the hallmark of his scholarship. If anyone deserved an honorary doctorate in ufology, it certainly was he.
I never could've asked for a better mentor, friend, and colleague in this field. Thank you, again, Sir Richard, for the enriching part you played in this long journey of inquiry, networking, and enlightenment.

Mike Swords, in a private posting (reprinted here with permission) might have said all of it the best. He wrote:

This all comes as only a small surprise to me as it was two weeks ago that John Carlson called me ask me to provide the raw facts for a UFOlogical eulogy that someone else would write when Dick passed. John felt that Dick would not make it to September. I produced that UFO worldline as fast as I could once I got back to Michigan but Dick out-ran me up the light-tunnel to the beyond. At least he now knows what UFOs are, and that despite the morons of our world he was right. By going through the exercise of lining up much of the major UFO activities of our long friend, it became even more concrete what a warrior he was. Many people know all about NICAP, FUFOR, and the Coalition, but maybe not so much about him bringing Brazilian UFOlogy to the US when just out of Tulane, or bringing the whole world to the US when he single-handedly brought the MUFON journal to the status [briefly] of the finest english-language source for foreign cases for the period of his tenure as foreign "editor"/correspondent. Dick facilitated Jim McDonald--Big Mac could have never have done it without him. Dick actually lived at the Colorado Project for weeks trying to teach them how to properly look at the subject. No other civilian researcher made such a committment except paid staff. Dick as we know was an irascible critter, but the flame burned deep, and he could not tolerate the utter lack of accountability so ubiquitous in our field. Maybe some of us remember when his "Reality Check" column was the only sane piece of writing in an entire newsstand magazine. Dick would tell you that you were full of crap when no one else had the guts to do so and the knowledge to make you respect it. I'm sure that he loved the way this particular site was/is trending as he chafed at the lack of cooperation and teamwork in the field. He loved history, and we in the UFO history "business" used to say: we are students of UFO history; Dick IS UFO history. He used to laugh at that. Although he and I differed on the meaning of the following phrase, I say: God's Speed, my friend, and please, keep the poltergeist activity down to a minimum

Yes, I know there is some redunduncy here, but I think it important. It explains why Dick Hall was so respected in a field when few are respected and many are maligned. This all suggests the level of respect and affection for this man who worked so tirelessly on a phenomenon that most snicker at. He wanted some tangible answers and he wished that the infighting among researchers could end so that we all could devote our time to research without worrying about the others.

So now we have lost one of the giants in the field and there are few who can match his spirit, wit or accomplishments.

Dick Hall dead at 78.

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