In the 1980s, with the AIDS epidemic in full swing and end-of-life care primitive, a San Francisco social worker who became an administrator had seen enough of the injustices of ageism and homophobia.
Hadley Hall rented a church building on Diamond Street for $ 1,000 a month and opened the Coming Home Hospice, the first residential facility to offer 24-hour AIDS hospice care in the country.
These 15 beds for hospice care were just the beginning of many innovations and contributions from Hall, who dedicated both their professional and retirement years to supportive services for the elderly, disabled, elderly, and terminally ill, from the San Francisco Home Health Service through the 30 from the Street Senior Center for meals on wheels to the open house – the only old people’s home in town specifically aimed at seniors in the LGBTQ + community.
This is a life of service worthy of a bronze plaque and likeness, and Hall was about to receive one at the new Openhouse Community Center when he died on August 10 in Emperor San Francisco. He was 87 years old. The cause of death was pneumonia caused by health problems, said his sister Carmela Sanders of Beaverton, Ore.
“Hadley wasn’t just an accomplished person. He was bigger than that. He was a giant of a person, “said psychotherapist and former Openhouse board member Marcy Adelman, noting that Hall was 6 feet 2 and looked taller because of his broad shoulders and legend.
“Hadley was great. They knew when he was coming down the hall, “said Ramona Davies, a retired social worker who met Hall in 1971.” His ideas were great, and his advocacy for making those ideas a reality was great. “
When Davies met Hall, he was executive director of the San Francisco Home Health Service with the goal of preventing and postponing the institutionalization of the frail.
“Hadley wanted to keep people where they called home, no matter what,” Davies said. The arrival of the AIDS epidemic added a whole new population to the equation.
“If you think back to 1984, it was a marginalized population,” said Jeannee Parker Martin, who was hired by Hall as executive director of the AIDS Home Care & Hospice program, a title and concept that Hall invented. “Hadley’s vision was to ensure that these individuals had care and service during the most vulnerable time of their lives.”
A fundraiser raised US $ 700,000 to convert the residential wing of the Most Holy Redeemer Church in the Castro neighborhood into a residence for US $ 30 a day. Workarounds were found for people too poor to cover. It opened in 1987 and there was a natural evolution of the AIDS Home Care & Hospice program.
“About 400 AIDS patients died with us last year,” Hall told Chronicle in 1987. “That’s roughly half of all deaths from the disease” in the city.
Coming Home remains one of the most emulated hospice care programs in the country, but Hall didn’t stop there. He was just getting started.
A merger between his own nonprofit umbrella VNA and Pacific Presbyterian Hospital to become California Pacific Medical Center resulted in his retirement. So he simply switched to volunteer status to ensure quality health care for marginalized people.
According to his sister, Hadley had always been a worker.
Hadley Dale Hall was born on July 1, 1933 in Devils Lake, ND, to the middle of five children. The Great Depression had started and times were tough at Devils Lake. His father, Walter Scott Hall, hitchhiked west and told his wife, Gladys, that he would fetch her and the children if he found work. He got a job as a lumberjack and later sent bus tickets for his family, including a 9 year old shed to move into the woods overlooking the Columbia River.
Hall graduated from Washington State College and taught at school before driving a van with Standard Oil. The next step was social work, which took him to Vallejo, then to UC Berkeley, where he did his Masters in Social Work, and finally to San Francisco.
He was interning with a family services agency in San Rafael when he fell in love with program director L. Warde Laidman. They dated for 60 years and eventually got married at San Francisco City Hall in 2014.
Until then, Hall had been using a wheelchair because of chronically poor hips, but that didn’t slow him down. He was given an electric wheelchair with which he regularly drove to the San Francisco Opera, where he and Laidman had season tickets and devoted themselves to life on the Opera Plaza. But mostly he used the power wheelchair to attend board meetings. His sister didn’t know half of them until recently.
“I’m his sister,” she said over the phone. “I only googled his name after his death.”
“Hadley was a giant in home care and hospice and was instrumental in leading hundreds of people to successful careers in aging services,” said Parker Martin, one of those people who became president and CEO of LeadingAge California in Sacramento has risen.
Hall is survived by his almost 60-year-old husband Warde Laidman. a sister, Sanders; nine nieces; and seven nephews. On Lok and Openhouse plan to have a celebration of Hall’s life at the new Openhouse Community Center in 2021 after it’s safe to gather socially. The bronze plaque in the Openhouse Community Center becomes a memorial during the celebration.
For one thing, Parker Martin will be there.
“His passion for care and service will not be forgotten,” she said.
Sam Whiting is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @samwhitingsf