Verna Hall couldn't imagine sitting still. She has been volunteering for nonprofit organizations in Tyler for more than four decades and in March was one of six "Women Who Care" honored at the 16th annual Women in Tyler luncheon.
"I've always enjoyed working with people and meeting new people," she said of her volunteer work. "When you work for free, you get a lot of jobs."
Mrs. Hall grew up in Rusk. She received a bachelor's of business administration from the University of North Texas and after marrying George Hall 57 years ago, the couple moved to Tyler in 1956.
Hall retired from Peoples National Bank and is executive vice president for Southside Bank, running the downtown branch.
Mrs. Hall worked as a secretary at Humble Oil until she became a stay-at-home mom. After her son started elementary school, she never returned to work. Instead, she began volunteering.
"All my life, I've been involved in things," she said. "Even growing up … I was always in the big middle of everything."
She played clarinet in the band, acted in plays and was elected as "Best All Around Girl" during her senior year in high school.
"I think that tells you, I have a broad interest in things," she said. "I just think it's my way of life."
Mrs. Hall said most of the nonprofits she works with are human services organizations.
"There's so much to do and so little to do it with," she said. "There's no limit to the need."
At 40 to 45 years, she has volunteered for United Way of Smith County the longest, and has served in all kinds of capacities, including as chairwoman of its leadership division for the last few years.
She is the past president of the East Texas Food Bank, which she has been involved with for 24 of its 25 years of existence, and is president of the Tyler Museum of Art. She has been the president of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and the Women's Symphony League, for which she still serves on the board. She is past president and serves on the board of the East Texas Crisis Center and is on the boards of Bethesda Health Clinic and Parents Services Center.
She has been on the boards of Historic Tyler, YMCA, the former Mental Health Association of Tyler and the Smith County Child Welfare Board. She has raised money and supported Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Tyler/Main Street, The University of Texas at Tyler and Tyler Junior College Foundation. She is past president of the Parent Teacher Associates at Andy Woods Elementary School, Hubbard Middle School and Robert E. Lee High School, when her son went to school there. She also has been actively involved for years with the Texas Rose Festival and The Order of the Rose Ball.
Mrs. Hall is heavily involved with fundraising and heading up fundraising events.
"The people I have met and gotten to know. … I never would have known otherwise, is just priceless to me," she said. "We love living in Tyler. That's why I've never hesitated to give back in any way I could."
When she's not attending meetings or raising money, which keeps her busy five days a week, she's attending the art museum, symphony or fundraising events on the weekends.
"I wouldn't know what it was like to get up every day and not have something to do," she said. "I love being busy, and I love being involved."
A self-proclaimed people person, Mrs. Hall still meets a group of friends at Grandy's for breakfast once a week, as they have been doing for 25 years, and another group of lunch buddies meet once a week as well. She is involved in the Friday Night Dinner Club and Littera, a literary club.
When she asks for people's support, which often includes money, she said, "I would never ask you to do something that I don't do myself. … I wouldn't be working on these things if I didn't believe in them."
Mrs. Hall said she was "floored" when she found out she was being honored as a Women in Tyler and had no idea who nominated her for it. She said some of her college friends, as well as other longtime friends and family, attended the luncheon, and several of the organizations she volunteers for bought tables to the event.
"I was just beside myself," she said. "It was a very nice honor. … I don't know if I was worthy or deserving of that but it was nice that someone thought I was."
The other Women in Tyler honorees were Beverly Beavers Brooks, Jean Coleman, Jennifer Carson, Irma Rodriguez and Rebecca Taylor.
If you know of a professional woman or business service in the Tyler area that should be highlighted in this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.