Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Hall ’68, ’75, her husband, Albert, and then-4-year-old daughter Kimbell travelled from Dallas to Los Angeles, bought a 50-foot powerboat, moved aboard, and cruised up the West Coast—docking at Friday Harbor, a charming New England-ish style waterfront village northwest of Seattle. Friday Harbor is located on San Juan Island, the county seat of the San Juan Islands, a sprawling archipelago of more than 128 named isles.
Like the American pioneers, the Halls were the first from their family, but not the last, to travel west and settle in a new locale, far from their hometowns. Albert’s brother, Bruce ’69, ’70, and his wife, Dianne ’71, later pulled up their roots in Dallas and joined their family on the small island, which sits within eyesight of the Canadian shoreline. Margaret and Dianne had lived across the street from each other in Dallas, and Margaret insisted that Bruce and Dianne also move to San Juan Island.
What motivated these Trinity alumni to move from the bustling city of Dallas to an island accessible only by ferry, private boat, or airplane?
While visiting Albert’s college roommate in Friday Harbor in 1990, Margaret says, “I absolutely fell in love with San Juan Island. I decided then and there to move. It took us two years before we could make that happen, but we’ve never looked back.”
A decade later, Bruce and Dianne were bitten by the same San Juan Island bug as Albert and Margaret. Bruce, like his brother, a native of Dallas, and Dianne, an “Army brat who lived everywhere,” packed up and joined the rest of the Hall clan in Friday Harbor in 2002.
“I had sold my interest in the commercial real estate company in Dallas that I was associated with and was looking for a slower pace,” Bruce says. “We love the beauty of the San Juan Islands and we are boaters. The areas around the islands have some of the best boating waters in the world.” Bruce is now a Commodore of the San Juan Island Yacht Club.
While Bruce and Dianne have their boating, each member of the Hall clan pursues their own passions on the island, sparked by their days at Trinity University.
Bruce continued to sell real estate until he contracted a near-fatal lung disease requiring a transplant. “I was very fortunate to have a successful double lung transplant in June 2012.”
Dianne, who majored in art at Trinity and helped found a Dallas advertising agency, DBG&H, also taught pottery classes at elementary schools around the Dallas area. In Friday Harbor, she continues to sell her pottery wares and teach classes. Dianne has also held several jobs on the island, most recently with the Luxel Corporation for the last 13 years as an office manager. A large portion of Luxel’s business is designing and fabricating custom bandpass filters for space applications. “And it all happens right on this small island. It is an exciting place to work.” Now that she is job sharing and moving toward retirement, Dianne is finding more time to be involved with San Juan Island’s art museum, IMA (San Juan Islands Museum of Art). Their current show, Emergence, is a world class exhibit of First Nation’s art that has never before been seen by the public as it comes from private collections.
Margaret continues her lifelong passion for theater by enthralling island residents and visitors with her acting and directing abilities at the San Juan Community Theatre.
Do they attend Margaret’s performances at the local theater center?
“Absolutely!” Bruce says. “In fact, I played a part in her recent production of Chicago.”
“Of course we attend,” Dianne says. “She is amazing.”
Theater is what brought Margaret to Trinity University.
As a child growing up in Dallas, she participated in the children’s theater program at the Dallas Theater Center. Paul Baker, founder of the Theater Center as well as the theater program at Trinity, encouraged Margaret to attend the University.
“I entered Trinity as an English major,” she says. “My parents really wanted me to get a teaching certificate, but I quickly realized that I was much more interested in William Shakespeare than Geoffrey Chaucer, so I transferred to the drama program and never looked back.”
“Paul Baker’s philosophy was that he didn’t want just actors or set designers,” she continues. “Everyone at the Dallas Theater Center had to do everything,” a well-rounded theater skill that she continues to appreciate.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1968 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1975, a graduate degree plan affiliated with the Dallas Theater Center.
One of her favorite memories from Trinity was playing a lead in A Different Drummer, the play that opened the Ruth Taylor Theater, opposite the late Edward Herrmann, who gained fame for portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt on television, Richard Gilmore on the Gilmore Girls and narrating programs on the History Channel and for NOVA.
“Trinity’s drama program launched me into a theater career,” she says.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in drama in 1968, she joined the resident company of the Dallas Theater Center but left in 1975 to perform as Helena in a rock musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which originated at the Dallas Theater Center.
“We took the play to Chicago where we had a very successful multiple-months run,” she says. “By the time I returned to Dallas, it was mid-season at the DTC and they weren’t hiring. I launched a second career in commercial real estate” while simultaneously acting with a small touring company.
Upon her arrival in Friday Harbor, Margaret got involved in the local San Juan Community Theatre by acting and directing numerous plays and musicals.
In the spring of 2017, she directed Chicago, which broke attendance and revenue records. Her directing skills of the production inspired a local theater patron to start the Margaret Hall Musical Theatre Fund with a gift of $10,000 to purchase capital items for musical theater productions. Eventually, the goal is to increase the fund to $30,000 with additional gifts.
Margaret and Albert, in addition to their active participation in the local theater, are also renowned around town for hosting exquisite musical recitals in their home throughout the year. They proudly point to a framed list hanging on their living room wall of the performers who have enchanted their guests.
While Margaret was influenced to attend Trinity through Paul Baker, Bruce was influenced by his mother. Raised in Dallas, Bruce’s brothers had attended a large state school. “My mother wanted me to go to a school with a smaller enrollment,” he says. “I was also impressed with Trinity’s campus.”
Dianne chose Trinity because “my dad was from San Antonio and my parents wanted me to be close to family while they travelled. Like Bruce, I also loved the campus.”
Bruce majored in business and fine arts.
“The teachers and classes I had in the art department greatly influenced my love of art history and love of collecting works of art,” Bruce says. “But most importantly I met my wife there. We have been married for 46 years.”
Although none of the Halls plan to move back to Texas, they do stay in contact with friends they made at Trinity. Dianne gets together with her pledge sisters from Chi Beta Epsilon every five years, while Bruce stays connected with his fraternity brothers from Theta Tau Upsilon and other valuable contacts he established at Trinity.
Despite their infrequent visits back to campus, they are impressed by the evolution of Trinity from when they were students. “The last time I was there, my impression was that the campus had grown so much and everything looked beautiful. I was surprised that you can’t drive through campus now.”
“The school seems to be prospering,” Bruce says. “My sense is that Trinity has become a much more exclusive institution and harder to get into than when I attended. It was a great place to get an education."