At 102-years-old, James “Ellis” Hall will tell you straight.
He feels blessed to live happily at Riverside Sanders Retirement Community in Gloucester, Virginia, with “no aches and pains.”
He can look back over the last century knowing that he worked as hard to be a blessing to others as he felt God was a blessing to him.
And he is overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to give back to the community – the Gloucester community – where he was raised and created his life.
For his life’s work, on Friday, July 10, 2020, Delegate Keith Hodges presented Hall with Virginia General Assembly House Joint Resolution No. 305, passed during its 2020 session, commending all that Hall accomplished.
“Mr. Hall made life matter,” Hodges said at an intimate presentation of the resolution at Sanders Retirement Community in front of Hall and a small gathering of his family members.
Out of an abundance of caution as a result of COVID-19, Hall stood on the porch of the Assisted Living apartment building where he lives while Hodges read the resolution in the adjoining parking lot while family members looked on.
“Mr. Hall made life mean something,” Hodges said. “Mr. Hall stood up for what he believed in. And Mr. Hall made a difference. I am honored to present Mr. Hall with House Joint Resolution No. 305.”
Written and introduced by Hodges, the resolution specifically honors Hall as a respected businessman, honorable veteran, and beloved member of the Gloucester community.
Born in Ordinary, Hall spent nearly his entire life in Gloucester, graduating from Achilles High School in 1937 and working at the Union Life Insurance Company until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1943.
He completed tours of duty in North Africa, India, and Myanmar, where he built roads and airstrips for the military. Shortly after the end of World War II, as a first sergeant, Hall was honorably discharged and returned home to Gloucester where he partnered with William F. Broaddus of the General Electric appliance retailer Broaddus Bros., which changed its name to Broaddus and Hall, Inc., in 1956 in a nod to Hall’s contributions to its success.
Hall proved instrumental in growing Broaddus and Hall into the largest General Electric retailer in Gloucester, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties and managed the store until he sold it in 2006. That same year, he was recognized as the Business Person of the Year by the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his retail business, Hall was a successful real estate investor, pursuing interests in commercial and residential real estate while developing the Edgehill Shopping Center along Gloucester’s Main Street.
When he wasn’t working and raising his family, Hall gave greatly to the community through service.
Guided throughout life by his deep and abiding faith, Hall has been a member of Newington Baptist Church for over 70 years, where he held several leadership positions. He sang in the choir, served as a deacon, church trustee, and finance committee chair, and taught Sunday school until the age of 100.
Passionate about sharing his faith with others, Hall was active with the prison ministry at the Gloucester County Jail through the Southeastern Correctional Ministry, receiving hundreds of letters over the years from inmates he had positively impacted through his Bible studies.
“Our nation’s centenarians have lived so much life that they’ve learned plenty of valuable lessons that us young folk ought to pay attention to,” Hodges said. “Never discount what they have to say just because they don’t have thousands of Twitter followers. The lessons that Mr. Hall can teach us are more valuable than what you can find on social media.”