James W. “Jim” Hale Sr., Geneseo, died Thursday, November 26, 2009 at Genesis Medical Center, Illini Campus, Silvis, He was 81.. Arrangements are being handled by Stackhouse-Moore Funeral Services. At his request the body was cremated, and there will be no visitation or service. Inurnment will take place at a later date in the Hume plot in Oakwood Cemetery. The family requests that memorials be sent to the Geneseo Library District Building Fund.
Jim was the last known direct descendent of the town’s founders living in Geneseo. Born in 1928 to Vernon W. and Margery White Hale, he was the great-great-great grandson of Roderick Random and Clarissa Stewart, great-great grandson of Dr. Stephen T. and Permelia Stewart Hume, great grandson of Peter Hammond and Ella Hume Taylor, and grandson of James H. and Louise Taylor White.
For most of his undergraduate years, Jim lived with his parents in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1946. Many vacation days, however, were spent in Geneseo with his grandparents leading to a life-long love for this community. He served as an enlisted man in the Army during the final days of WWII, graduated from Michigan State University in 1952, and served again in the Army as an officer during the Korean War.
He was married for 45 years to his wife, Elaine, an accomplished, prize-winning artist.
In 1988, after a 35-year career, largely in communications, Jim elected to return to his friends and his roots in Geneseo. He worked briefly, part-time, for the Geneseo Republic and for a while was a regular, freelance contributor to the Dispatch’s “Gold Book” publication.
In September, 1994, Jim was chosen to be Henry County’s first Public Information Officer, a position he held for five years, retiring for a second time in October of 1999. Meanwhile, he became deeply involved in community volunteer work, serving as publicity chairman for Geneseo’s annual Victorian Walk; assisting Richmond Hill Players on stage and off; becoming a charter member of the “Victorian Geneseo” magazine’s editorial board; and a regular member of the Geneseo Historical Association’s board of directors. He also helped to form the community’s Endowment for Excellence in Education.
Jim was appointed to the Henry County “708” Mental Health Board in 2000 and was its chairman from 2001 through 2006. In 2002, he was elected to the Geneseo Public Library District board of trustees,,serving a term as president.and building committee chairman. A victim, late in life, of Parkinsons Disease, Jim , established a PDA support group at Hammond-Henry Hospital.
In 2002, the Illinois Humanities Council presented Jim with one of its Studs Terkel Humanities Service awards. In his private moments he continued his interest in writing, becoming an award-winning poet and essayist.
Jim is survived by his wife Elaine, daughter Dr. Amy, her husband, Rhett, San Jose, CA, daughter June, and her husband, Robin, Sterling, IL and offspring by his first marriage, James Jr., Lummi Island, Washington, and Stephany Louise Hale of Portland, Oregon.