One with living history: Flagler loses retired professor who led art department in early years

Submitted by Renda Hall.

By Maiya

Half of a half-pint of the darkest beer on tap — Bob Hall did not drink often when he came into The Social Lounge, but when he did, that’s what he ordered.

‘Sneaking away to the bar,’ he called it, even though Gudrun, his wife of 61 years, knew exactly where he was. Grey-white wispy hair covered his head, and glistening eyes peered through thick, circle rimmed glasses. His trousers were held up by suspenders and wrinkles made up his face, symbolizing old age and accompanying life experience. He spoke slowly and with purpose but was eager to tell his stories. 

On Sept. 7, 2019, Hall passed at the age of 87.

“I’m going to belly up to the bar,” he would tell Scott Moulton, owner of The Social Lounge in St. Augustine. 

Never drinking more than half of a half-pint of the darkest beer on tap, he always claimed he had to get home before Gudrun started looking for him.

“He would look around and hold court, tell tales and entertain the bar with stories of the past. He would tell stories of St. Augustine during the Spanish period and about riding his motorcycle through Europe, the Italian Alps and the wine country of France,” Moulton said.              

An educator, mentor, artist, reenactor, U.S. Navy veteran of the Korean War, husband, father and friend, Hall is best known to the Flagler College community as the former chair of the art department for more than 20 years and one of the college’s earliest faculty members.

Most days, Hall showed up to Bowman’s Art History class in his Revolutionary uniform, off to a reenactment, often sporting a mustache or goatee. Bowman recalls many years later bringing history to life with Hall in Puerto Rico for the National Park Service in the 90s and walking with him down roads in historic St. Augustine, dressed as soldiers for reenactments.  

Hall posing in his reenactment outfit.
Submitted by Renda Hall.

“Standing shoulder to shoulder there in the middle of that moment in time, it shows living history people are almost like time travelers,” Bowman said. “Bob was the Peter Pan of St. Augustine reenacting and a leader in that sense. Those that know him I’m sure would agree.” 

Hall was not only active at Flagler, but also he worked to preserve the history of St. Augustine on the City Commission, Architectural Review and Planning and Zoning Boards and the Historic Florida Militia. 

He was also a prolific artist, often found working creatively in his home, at Flagler’s art studio or outside with an easel. Alongside him would be his daughter Renda Hall.

“My father was very encouraging of any creative hobbies,” Hall said. “I can remember drawing and painting together outside on the patio. When he was working in the ceramics building, I would go over there and visit him and make pots. He was a very cool father and an open-minded person.”

Combining his passion for art and history, Hall’s artworks focused on the military, battles and ships. He also had a love for cars and motorcycles, which he encompassed in many of his pieces as well. One of his fondest paintings, according to Scott Moulton, was a timeline of his and Gudrun’s travels throughout Europe on his motorcycle when they first met.

“He loved life and new experiences,” she said. “He loved to share these experiences with others and open people’s minds to the world. He encouraged travel and loved to read and collect books, especially about military history. He was humble because he did not sell most of his art. Art was for his pure enjoyment.”

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