Christian 08


Wilburn E. Hall

August 9, 1919 ~ March 7, 2018 (age 98)

“By Gory, there’re a lot of crabs in that pot!” would have been a common refrain of Wilburn’s when he pioneered the Dungeness fisheries on the west coast - and again when he pursued the king crab fisheries in Alaska.
On March 7, 2018, Wilburn Eugene Hall took his last breath and peacefully and willingly began his eternal life with God. He was born to Evan Silas Hall and Ruth Ellen Whisler Hall on their family homestead near American Falls, Idaho, on August 9, 1919. Wilburn joined older twin brothers Chester and J. Raymond, with sisters Frances and Mary yet to be born. In 1924, many of the extended family including grandparents, moved to Vernonia, Oregon, to pursue work in the timber industry. Life was not easy but Wilburn was always surrounded by loving family who taught him the Christian faith, value of work, loyalty and self-reliance. After his mother’s illness, he and his father moved to Waldport in 1930 where he learned to forage seafood from the river. In high school, Wilburn played basketball, was school treasurer and the only boy who took typing and bookkeeping. These skills served him well throughout his business career. Even before graduating in 1937, Wilburn drafted a contract to buy a small salmon boat for the three brothers to fish. Ultimately, Wilburn by himself or with partners, owned more than seventeen vessels and other maritime operations. He left a huge imprint in the fishing industry.
After his marriage to Dorothy Joyce Curryer in 1941, they moved to Newport and were blessed with four children: Bonnie, Janet, Vern and Margaret. While Wilburn fished principally crab, he also caught shark, albacore and shrimp. In testing the Dungeness fishery in Alaska, he saw the potential in king crab. In 1963, he moved operations to Kodiak where he thrived in this new crab fishing frontier and soon established the family business, Rondys, Inc. He also became a shareholder in All Alaska Seafoods which operated shoreside and floating processors. Later, he expanded his business interests by purchasing real estate in Newport, investing in Sanipak (maker of sanitation equipment) in California, exploring gold mining in the Yukon, developing a limestone quarry in Idaho and entering the early Bering Sea Pollock fishery. After losing Joyce in 1999, he found happiness again by marrying Kathleen Hicks Weber in 2000.
But for all his successes, Wilburn will be remembered most for his strength of character. Wilburn’s faith in God was unassailable. It guided his morality in all aspects of his life, with a favorite Bible verse being “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness...”
Wilburn cared deeply for his family, mentored many others and gave generously whenever he saw a need. He truly liked to work but also relished his leisure time. He was a happy hunter on trips to eastern Oregon and Alaska and he loved watching basketball anytime. Vacations were usually family road trips; notably were circling the US in 1953 and to Alaska in 1956. While driving, he’d tell stories, yodel and sing old songs, sometimes adding humorous verses of his own. Later, he and Joyce enjoyed traveling the Holy Lands, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela and Singapore. Even in his 80’s, he and Kathleen traveled to Canada, Florida and Arizona.
Wilburn enjoyed music in general, but favored western cowboy songs and classic church hymns. He was a great storyteller and often enjoyed a hearty laugh in the midst of the telling. He entertained his children with tales of his youth as well as stories of Paul Bunyan, “Brer Rabbit” and life in Dogpatch. Many of his personal stories can be found in his 2015 memoir, My Fishing Life.
Treasured by his family, Wilburn is survived by his wife Kathleen; sister Mary Binkley of Fairbanks, Alaska; children: Bonnie Elerding, Janet (Peter) Long, Vern (Debi) Hall and Margaret (Craig Nelsen) Hall; grandchildren: Dan Nelson, Melinda (Galen Salgado) Long, David (Suzanne) Long, Evan (Amy) Hall, Ida Hall, George Hall, and Elizabeth (Jordan Anderson) Nelsen; plus five great-grandchildren: Tyler Cannon-Nelson, Charlotte and Millicent Long, and Riley and Elsa Hall. First wife, Joyce Hall and granddaughter Trisha Elerding are predeceased.
A memorial service in his honor will be held at 11:00 am on March 24, 2018 at Newport First Christian Church with a reception following. Donations may be made to the Joyce Hall Memorial Scholarship.

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