City of Charleston flags at all municipal buildings and West Virginia flags at all buildings where Kanawha County government business is conducted were ordered lowered to half-staff Monday and Tuesday to honor the life and service of former Charleston mayor Kent S. Hall, who died Friday at age 92.
“Mayor Hall was a true public servant and had a heart for helping others,” Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “We mourn his passing and send thoughts and prayers to his family at this difficult time.”
“Former Mayor Hall was a personal friend of mine and of Commissioner Henry C. Shores,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said. “His passing is a tremendous loss to our whole community.”
Hall, who served as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Executive Committee in the early 1980s, defeated incumbent Charleston mayor Chuck Gardner in 1991 and held the city’s top post until 1995. That year, veteran councilman Ted Armbrecht squeaked past Hall in the Republican primary, collecting 92 more votes to win the nomination.
Among Hall’s achievements as mayor was the diversification of the city’s workforce. He is credited with hiring more minorities than any previous Charleston mayor, including the city’s first Black police chief, Dallas Staples.
In 1993, with help from Staples and Councilman Tom Lane, Hall managed to get a modest gun-control ordinance cleared by the City Council. It called for banning handguns from city property, criminal background checks before handguns could be sold within city limits and allowing no more than one handgun per person, per month, to be bought from city gun dealers.
Among Hall’s earliest endeavors in city politics was working in former mayor John Copenhaver’s election and reelection campaigns in the 1950s, after moving to Charleston in 1945.
A native of Clay and the son of Clay County’s Republican Party chairman, Hall was a graduate of Greenbrier Military School, in Lewisburg, and West Virginia University, where he earned a master’s degree in English. He was a 20-year-veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, where he rose to the rank of major before retiring.
Hall’s Charleston-area business involvement included serving as president of Central Distributing and Locke Manufacturing, vice president of Rose City Press and a partner in Direct Mail Service.
In 1999, after undergoing heart bypass surgery, Hall suffered a stroke. A second, more damaging, stroke occurred late last year, robbing him of his ability to speak.
Hall’s wife, Marie Copley Hall, died in 2012.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete. Barlow-Bonsall Funeral Home, in Charleston, is handling arrangements.