Dr. William M. "Billy" Hall, a gynecologist and obstetrician who was the first African-American to head the staff of the old Lutheran Hospital, died of congestive heart failure Jan. 18 at his Columbus, Ohio, home The former Ashburton resident was 88.
During his career, he delivered nearly 6,000 babies, including a child he delivered during the August 1963 March on Washington.
Born in Detroit and raised in Baltimore, he was the son of Albert G. Hall and Eunice Berry Hall. He was a 1943 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and was a reunion chairman for his class. He earned a bachelor's degree at Lincoln University, where he played basketball and competed at the old Coliseum on Monroe Street. He was also a Druid Hill Park lifeguard and swimming instructor.
He played semiprofessional basketball on a Washington, D.C., team coached by Dunbar High School's William "Sugar" Cain. He led the team in rebounding.
He was a graduate of the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., and completed his residency at Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., and at Harlem Hospital in New York. He belonged to the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He joined the Navy and served as a lieutenant. He participated in an experimental space suit program and performed experimental operations on animals while in a weightless chamber at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Family members said that his experiments led to the space suit used in manned space flights.
After returning to Baltimore, he established a private practice in obstetrics and gynecology and later was a partner in the group Doctors Hall, Randall & Chambers.
"My father had a dream of building a medical center where all medical specialties would be represented," said his daughter, Julie Hall Lowe of Ellicott City.
In 1969, he and other physicians founded Garwyn Medical Center at Garrison Boulevard and Gwynns Falls Parkway. Its June 1969 dedication was attended by Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel. The speaker was James Farmer, former national director of the Congress of Racial Equality and an assistant secretary in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Dr. Hall, who was the president of the medical center, told a Baltimore Sun reporter that the center gave the 21 physicians who practiced there "a realization of the problems of the inner city. We now think in terms of the entire community and not of our individual practices."
In 1976, he was elected president of the medical staff of Lutheran Hospital in West Baltimore. A Sun article that year said that Lutheran was the second hospital in Baltimore, after Provident Hospital, to have a black staff leader.
A 1965 article in the Afro-American noted that Dr. Hall was on the staffs of Lutheran and Bon Secours hospitals, and of University of Maryland Medical Center. He was later on the staff of Sinai Hospital.
He coached football at McDonogh School and was a neighborhood basketball coach at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Northwest Baltimore. He also was an executive board member of the Baltimore Bullets.
In 1981, Dr. Hall was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Army and was named chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Kimbrough Army Hospital at Fort Meade.
In February 1986, Dr. Hall retired from the Army and became a staff physician at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Fort Bliss, Texas. He retired nine years later.
During his retirement, Dr. Hall became the host of a weekly jazz radio program on KTEP radio in Texas. He was known as Dr. Jazz.
He had been a senior warden at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in El Paso, Texas, and a board member of the American Red Cross, also in El Paso.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 28 at McDonogh School's Tagart Chapel, 8600 McDonogh Road.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of nearly 37 years, Linda Williams; three sons, Philip Dorsey of Atlanta, William M. Hall Jr. of Owings Mills, and Norman Hall of Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; two other daughters, Patricia Hall of Ellicott City and Kristy Hall Reel of Columbus, Ohio; a sister, Audrey Coleman of Los Angeles; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A daughter, Pamela Hall, died in 2014. A brother, Albert G. Hall Jr., died in 1999. His marriage to Mildred DaSylva Hall ended in divorce.