Joe Bill Hall was born in Checotah, Oklahoma on November 4, 1925. His parents were Sydney Fletcher and Grace Futrell Hall. His grandparents were Indian traders. When the Cherokees left the east coast, the Halls followed to Indian Territory and continued business with the tribes. Joe Bill worked in his grandfather’s trading post as a young boy. He often bought animal skins from Indians. During his early childhood, he lived on a farm and was fond of horses and dogs.
Joe Bill attended Elementary school in Checotah, Oklahoma. He had difficulty in reading due to dyslexia, (a condition unidentified at that time). He compensated for his inability to clearly visualize letters to form words by superior observation and listening skills. A second severe setback occurred at the age of eleven when he had a nearly fatal meningitis infection. During early adolescence he became interested in chemistry and asked his father, a small town banker, to send him to a school where he could learn more than in the small local school. Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota became his leap into scholastic excellence. He graduated cum laude in 1943. After a year at the University of Arkansas, and challenging 26 credit hours while carrying a heavy course load, at the age of 19, he was admitted into an accelerated program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. It was during World War II and the workload on medical students was tremendous. Dr. Hall graduated in 1948, sixth in his class, then continued for 3 more years at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis to complete a two-year internship and a one-year residency in internal medicine.
Dr. Hall married Patsy Harrison on December 18, 1945, after his first year in medical school. The couple had six children, four boys and two girls. Pat Hall died June 8, 2007.
Dr. Hall began practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1950 with the Hathcock Clinic. In 1953-1955, he was called to serve as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Before returning to Fayetteville, he wanted more advanced training and was accepted into the prestigious residency program in internal medicine at Duke University. Returning to Fayetteville in 1956, he established the Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic (FDC). His first patients were seen in his home. The following year he constructed the first FDC building. Four more expansions were added before he left the large practice to others in 1991. At that time, his clinic had 16 physicians covering 5 specialties and 79 ancillary employees. After a short break, he joined his son, Dr. Ben Hall, as a part-time associate until his final retirement in1997.
Noteworthy in Dr. Hall’s professional life was bridging the gap between the old country doctor’s medical practice and modern scientific medicine while maintaining the treasured doctor/patient relationship inherent in the old country doctor days. Dr. Hall brought to Northwest Arkansas the first eltrocardiograms, the first laboratories, the medical record department to hospitals, the first nuclear medicine laboratory, the first treadmill, and home health services. He was the first internal medicine consultant and became a circuit rider consultant to the small hospitals in 3 counties in Northwest Arkansas.
As a leader in professional organizations, Dr. Hall was President of the Washington County Medical Society; President of 9th Councilor District of the Arkansas Medical Society; Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians; Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and Governor of the Arkansas College of Physicians. He was Chief of Staff at Fayetteville City Hospital and at Washington Regional Medical Center. When nurses were unavailable, he was the driving political force that brought nursing education to Northwest Arkansas.
Outside of his professional life, Dr. Hall was a man of deep faith. He was active in his church, served on committees, taught Sunday School, sponsored youth groups, and was frequently called to speak from pulpits and at vesper services. His interest and work with the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum from its inception was an important part of the success of the museum.
The Hall family lived in Fayetteville. They also had a large farm west of the city on the Illinois River with open pastures, wooded areas, and a large garden. Horses, cattle, and Labrador Retrievers were both pets and hobbies. Dr. Hall bought and moved and old log cabin to the property, added a kitchen to provide a day-off or weekend respite place. He later built a large house attached to the cabin as a retirement home where his growing extended family of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and many friends could gather.
Early in life, Dr. Hall established “commitment, compassion, and integrity” as the three virtues on which a bountiful life should be lived. He exemplified these principles in his writing and in his daily living. He left them as his heritage to those who follow.
Dr. Hall died September 4, 2010 at the age of 84. Nearly 600 attended his Memorial Services to pay tribute to this respected and admired leader of medicine and men.
Biography by B.L. Battenfield and E.M. Singleton Jan 2012