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Junior Hall, 77, loved making a difference

| Sunday, April 16, 2006

Junior Hall enjoyed clowning around when it made life better for children and for his community.

As a member of the Syria Temple Clown Unit, Mr. Hall, known as "Pal" the clown, participated in the yearly Shrine circuses -- a major fundraiser that supports 22 Shrine hospitals throughout the United States that provide free treatment for children with orthopedic problems, burns and spinal cord injuries.

Joseph M. Hall Jr., of Murrysville, owner of J.M. Enterprises in Murrysville and a former Murrysville councilman, died of cancer on Friday, April 14, 2006, at Excela Westmoreland Regional Hospital, Greensburg. He was 77.

Peter Von Geis, an Export businessman and an old friend, recalled how Mr. Hall, dressed as "Pal," would visit the burn units of Shrine Hospitals, both locally and out of state, and entertain the youngsters.

"Junior's family owned a lot of property around this area," Von Geis said. "Junior recently donated 30 acres to Penn Township to establish a nature walk. He also donated a large tract of land to Export Borough to create a park and a playground."

Born in Delmont and raised in Murrysville, Joseph Hall was an only child in the family of Joseph M. Sr. and Marie Reich Hall.

His father, an entrepreneur, established the first supermarket in Murrysville, was involved in the construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Irwin to the Breezewood Interchange, and operated strip mines and stone quarries.

Mildred Page, a childhood friend, also recalled how Mr. Hall, dressed as Santa Claus, would ride around in his Cadillac convertible, passing out candy and gifts in rehabilitation hospitals for exceptional children and for men and women residing in senior citizen residences.

"Although Junior was from Murrysville, he loved the little town of Export," Mrs. Page said. "He did so much for Export that they held a 'Junior Hall Day' a year ago. The Murrysville Chamber of Commerce named Junior their Man of the Year.

"He was good to his church (Emmanuel Reformed United Church of Christ)," Mrs. Page added. "Any kind of work that was needed to improve the church building or the grounds, Junior was glad to oblige."

Mrs. Page also recalled Mr. Hall's Stetson hats, which, with the exception of his Santa Claus and Shrine clowns days, he wore all the time.

Ruby Marker, a resident of Export, recalled the friendship between her husband, Carl, and the Hall family.

"Carl worked for Junior's dad for years and later for Junior," she said. "My husband and Junior hunted and fished together."

"Junior definitely took after his parents," Mrs. Marker added. "Their generosity was passed down to their son. They, too, were always ready to help any person or organization that needed a helping hand."

Junior is survived by two close friends and companions, Mildred M. Page, of Ligonier, and Carl Marker, of Export.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Wolfe-Von Geis Funeral Home Inc., 5701 Lincoln Ave., Export, 724-327-1400, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday with Pastor Roger Nicholson officiating.

Interment will follow in Emmanuel Church Cemetery, Export.

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