Humble & Kind: Longtime Lion, coach, dies in Opp

Published 12:43 am Friday, December 16, 2016

Opp and Covington County lost a friend, loved one, heartfelt servant, and the true epitome of “humble and kind, when B.H. “Tubby” Hall, 95, passed away Thursday. But family members said he was reunited with his wife on what would have been their 74th wedding anniversary.

tubby“Tubby” or “Coach” as he was known affectionately to those who knew him, was active in the Lions Club for decades and was part of the Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Program.

Before his death, Tubby was legally blind, due to macular degeneration.

Always humble, Tubby told the Star-News in a 2014 interview that what he did was all about service.

“To give the Biblical answer, ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you are doing it for me,’” he said. “Lions Club is truly about service.”

Tubby served as director emeritus of the endowment.

When Tubby served as chairman of the eye bank, he was able to increase eye transplants from 50 to 500 in a year’s time, and keep the cornea specialist in place.

When the doctor first came to the program the success rate was 60 to 70 percent. A few years later, the rate jumped to the high 90s.

Tubby graduated from the University of Alabama in 1948 with a degree in education and was hired as a head baseball coach and assistant football and basketball coach at Opp High School.

He also ran the local swimming pool in the summers.

He quit coaching in 1953 and joined Henry Morgan in the tire business in Opp, where they developed a chain of two dozen Auto-Sav stores in the southeast over the next three decades.

Though he gave up coaching high school ball, Tubby helped organize Little League baseball in Opp in 1953 and coached youth teams for 44 years before his eyesight forced him to retire.

Before Tubby made his mark on the people of Opp and those who very visually impaired, he served in World War II, where he commanded a truck company supporting Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

He also served in the Army during Korea.

In August 2015, he was one of more than 20 World War II veterans who took part in the Spirit of ’45 celebration commemorating the ending of World War II. A group of locals took the World War II veterans to the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base.

In September 2015, the Star-News featured Hall because at 94-and-a-half he had made his 100th visit to the Mizell Wellness Center.

He said that he though he was over 90 years old, working out was making him feel better than he had in a long time.

Wellness Director Joni Ross called Tubby humble.

“He would ask, ‘Why do they love me so much?,’” she said. “He had no clue how wonderful he was.”

Long-time fellow Lion John Vick remembered Tubby as a friend.

“Tubby was a friend and fellow Lion for over 40 years,” Vick said. “He gave many years of service to Lions Alabama Sight and other causes for the visually impaired. He proudly accompanied our group of World War II veterans to the 70th anniversary of the end of the end war.”

Retired District Judge Trippy McGuire called Tubby a pillar of the community and “just as fine a Christian gentlemen you’d ever want to meet.”

“He literally impacted hundreds of kids he coached starting in 1948,” McGuire said. “Someone at lunch said that in Tubby Hall we almost lost a city, church and community. He epitomized the best of Opp. Someone else at lunch said that there was not a person who knew Tubby that did not love him.”

McGuire called Tubby a “true patriotic American.”

McGuire said losing Tubby was a “big loss for Opp and Covington County.”

Retired Opp High School English teacher Cheryl Graves, who also attended Opp’s First United Methodist Church with Tubby, said she loved the man.

“I read to him for – I don’t even know how long – a long time,” she said. “We read the Jan Karon books.”

Graves echoed McGuire in calling Tubby a gentleman.

She said he also held the door for everyone at church.

She said this was the first Christmas cantata without Tubby to her recollection

“He was at church on Wednesday nights and he sang in the choir,” she said. “He memorized the music. Faye Tisdale would play it.”

Graves said Tubby had a degree in English and he could recite poetry up until his death.

“He loved history,” she said. “His mind was always so interested. He could tell you anything. He remembered any person he coached. The children in our church loved him. There’s just something about him. We have lost a whole library in Tubby Hall.”

Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but the family said services will be held Mon., Dec. 19, at the First United Methodist Church in Opp. Wyatt Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

The family requests memorials be sent to Opp First United Methodist Church, or the charity of your choice.