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Geoff Hall 1925-2010

Posted by SC Comments Off on Geoff Hall 1925-2010

Geoffrey Neil Hall 9 August 1925 – 18 April 2010

 

Hall family at Rayner Rd: Ken, John, Geoff, Peter, Con, Girlie in front

One of the Piha Surf Club’s most loyal and long-serving members passed away recently.  Geoff Hall had held virtually every officer position in the Piha Surf Club and always attended anniversary club get-togethers. He was one of only three surviving members of the legendary Piha Spivs and Drones Club (now only Peter Hall and Bert McCarthny remain) and at his funeral, the congregation joined in the Spivs and Drones chant, led by his daughter:

“Rootie toot toot! Rootie toot toot!
We are the boys from the institute
We don’t smoke and we don’t chew
And we don’t go with girls who do.
Our class won the bible!”

The Hall family were West Coasters who in 1934 emigrated to live in Auckland where Geoff attended Otahuhu Tech and Auckland Grammar School.  In 1940 the family purchased three sections in Rayner Road, Piha (where the Meads are now).  Father Con was an imposing barrel-chested man who had served as lock in the New Zealand Army Reserve rugby team during the First World War, the first team to wear the black jersey with silver fern.  His wife, Girlie, was a capable no-nonsense woman, an effective foil for her husband.

There were four Hall boys, Ken, Geoff, Peter and John, and all helped construct the Piha bach from second-hand timber, much of it kauri. They were all tall and good-looking and very gentlemanly in manner. The oldest three all joined the surf club (John had a long career overseas in the NZ Army), and being good sportsmen – Geoff played rugby league, Peter represented Auckland at rugby and Ken Taranaki – were a great asset to the surf club, forming the mainstays of teams during the 1940s and 1950s.

The Hall brothers also gave long service in sports administration, in Geoff’s case in rugby league and the surf club. Geoff was treasurer from 1941 to 1946 and in that role incorporated the club, secretary 1946-47, chairman 1952-54, and president 1958-64. In 1967 he was made a life member.

They were also as young men deputised to babysit for me and my sister along Rayner Road, an unusual job for teenaged boys, and in 1947 Geoff, having trained as an account went to work for my father at City Haulage Ltd, where he stayed till he went to work for Royal Exchange Assurance, his job till he retired aged 55.

Geoff married Heather Murdoch in 1953 and they had four children – two girls and twin boys. In the mid-1960s his job took him to Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington until 1978. He separated from Heather, and in 1981 remarried to “Heather 2”, Heather McEwen who had five children from a previous marriage.

Geoff’s great retirement project was in genealogy. Over many years he completed exemplary genealogies of his maternal and paternal families, not just dry charts, but with many amazing photographs and memories. In 2008 he published these in two volumes, one with a photo on Piha from the old Hall bach site on the cover. Geoff was a JP and an active member of genealogical societies.

With his interest in history, Geoff was a mine of information for me when I was writing the 75th anniversary book for the surf club. He greatly enjoyed all the celebratory events. His death was unexpected but he had to time to say goodbye to all his family and to go out listening to his family singing old familiar songs at his bedside.

Geoff was a lovely, gentle man, who generously gave back to communities in which he lived over his whole lifetime. He is survived by Heather and their children, and his brother Peter.

Sandra Coney

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