Avery W. Hall, Shore businessman and civic leader, dies at 91


Avery W. Hall, a Salisbury insurance man and Eastern Shore civic leader who was a former chairman of the commissioners of the Maryland Port Authority, died yesterday at Peninsula General Hospital after a stroke. He was 91.

Services for Mr. Hall will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Asbury United Methodist Church in Salisbury.

In 1955 he was named to the committee that drafted the law establishing the Port Authority, and the next year he was appointed a commissioner. He became chairman of the commission in 1968, holding the position until 1971, when the agency was absorbed by the state's Department of Transportation. He then became a member of its board of review.

Mr. Hall was a Republican whose first appointment to the port agency was by a Republican governor, Theodore R. McKeldin, who earlier had named him to the State Roads Commission. But subsequently Mr. Hall was appointed to state posts by both Democrats and Republicans.

He had been a member of the boards of Washington College in Chestertown, Salisbury State College (now Salisbury State University) and the Holly Center. He was on the Board of Examiners of Maryland Pilots.

Born in Whaleysville, he was educated in public schools and the Beacom Business College in Salisbury.

While still in school he worked in a sawmill and picked strawberries. Later, he was employed in the office of a Salisbury shipyard. In 1925 he started his insurance business.

In 1981, he became honorary chairman of the board of the Avery W. Hall Insurance Agency. He was a former president of the Maryland Association of Insurance Agents.

Mr. Hall had a number of other business interests as well. He had been president of Red Star Motor Coaches Inc. before it was sold to Carolina Trailways and of Victor Lynn Lines, a shipping and trucking company.

He had been on the board of County Trust Co., now part of Maryland National Bank; Delmarva Power and Light Co.; two frozen food and canning companies, Dulaney Foods and John H. Dulaney & Son; and Peninsula Broadcasting Co., which he also served as secretary.

In his hometown of Salisbury he was a Red Cross volunteer, chairman of the Wicomico County Welfare Board, on the board of the Wicomico Children's Home, a member of the Incinerator and Sewage Plant Commission and on the board that built the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

He was on the boards of the Salvation Army and Peninsula General Hospital, which made him an honorary trustee and named a building for him. He belonged to the Lions Club, the Elks Lodge, the Wicomico Lodge of the Masons, the Scottish Rite, Boumi Temple and the Royal Order of Jesters.

At Asbury United Methodist Church he had been chairman of the trustees, a member of the administrative board and treasurer for a building fund in the 1970s.

His community leadership brought him awards from the Salisbury and Maryland Chambers of Commerce, the Greater Baltimore Committee, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Del-Mar-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Kiwanis International and Rotary International, which named him a Paul Harris Fellow.

He was an honorary member of the Delta Mu Delta business fraternity at Salisbury State and was awarded honorary doctorates by both Salisbury State and Washington College.

Mr. Hall's first wife, the former Mildred Disharoon, died in 1942.

He is survived by his wife, the former Katharine Dodd Downing; four grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to Asbury United ZTC Methodist Church or Peninsula General's Critical Care Facility through the Avery W. Hall Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.

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