The following is one of several Collegeside member profiles written by Donna Smith over a period of several years. They tell the personal stories of some of our long-time members, some of whom are living and some of whom have gone on to be with their Lord. Their personal stories are an important part of the historical fabric of Collegeside.
It was a day to remember!
August 22, 1964, was the day Phil Hall graduated from Tennessee Tech (then Tennessee Polytechnic Institute), received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and married his sweetheart, Harriet Sue Hooper.
They first met on the front porch of the church building. The year was 1960, and they were attending the annual Collegeside picnic held on the front lawn to welcome Tech students each fall. Their wedding was at Collegeside, and they eventually made Cookeville and Collegeside home for them and their two sons.
Harriet Sue was born in Cookeville and grew up here except for a few years in Lebanon. She graduated from Cookeville Central High School in 1960 and will celebrate with her fellow classmates their 50th reunion in September.
Her parents, Ed and Francis Hooper, bought interest in what became Hooper and Huddleston Funeral Home from Jack Carver in 1955. Harriet Sue and her sister Helen Ann learned community involvement from their parents. In addition to being involved with Collegeside, Ed and Francis were active in Cookeville. Ed was the first elected President of the Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the Industrial Governor’s Committee that was instrumental in bringing industries such as Fleetguard, McCord, and Teledyne to the area. He was a funeral director for more than 60 years. Francis was a homemaker involved in Girl Scouts, Town and Gown, and various volunteer activities. Further, she was known for her needlework craft and her great cooking.
Harriet Sue has continued the family tradition of serving. She retired after 30 years as a kindergarten teacher, most of those years at Northeast Elementary. She is a member of Putnam County Retired Teachers, Alpha Delta Kappa honorary teachers’ society, Cancer Survivors, Town and Gown, and Tech Women’s Club. You can see her bi-weekly volunteering at the reception desk for the Collegeside offices.
Phil moved often as a child but said his parents made sure he grew up in the church. He spent his teenage years in Nashville and graduated from Donelson High School, and he will attend his 50th high school reunion this summer. After his army service, he and Harriet Sue settled in Cookeville. He worked as a licensed funeral director, then in various engineering and quality positions at both Peterbilt Motors and Fleetguard. Since his retirement from Fleetguard in 2002, he devotes most of his time to hunting and farming in Jackson County. He hunts both deer and wild turkeys in season. In recent years he has made an annual spring trip to hunt turkeys in Nebraska.
Phil has been active in civic organizations over the years, including Jaycees and Optimists, and he is currently a member of the Noonday Lion’s Club. He worked with the local Boy Scouts steering committee for several years and coached Little League Baseball and Optimist League Football. He can be seen ushering and assisting with services at the main assembly at Collegeside on Sunday mornings.
Their son Philip and his wife LeeAnn live in Cookeville with their son, Ryan. Rex, the Hall’s younger son, lives in Cody, Wyoming; they have visited him in the fall almost every year since he moved there.
Fun Facts and Memories:
Many of their memories center around the church family at Collegeside, including retreats to Fall Creek Falls when Doc and Edith Toline were sponsors of the Tech students’ group.
Some memories make them laugh. Phil proposed romantically and chivalrously on one knee, but Harriet Sue says she just giggled. When the happy couple decided to reveal their engagement at a family dinner, they found that Harriet Sue’s little sister had already made sure everyone knew. Prior to the wedding, the boys at the funeral home built a platform for Harriet Sue to stand on during the ceremony. This was done so she could easily be seen by the church audience. Then, as now, she is less than 5 feet tall.
Harriet Sue remembers welcoming Phil home from his service overseas, but she did not recognize him because of all the other servicemen getting off the plane. He had been away for more than 13 months and had lost 40 pounds.
Things have changed significantly at Collegeside since the Halls returned in 1967. Their older son, Philip, was in his first year and the only baby in the nursery for several months. Later that year the Davidsons, Phyllis and Bill, moved to Cookeville, and Jeff joined Philip in the nursery, which at that time was located behind the baptistry. When there was an unhappy camper in the nursery, he or she might become loud enough to offer competition to the pulpit occupant.
The primary ministry at Collegeside in those days was the college student membership. There were not many young families in the congregation at that time. In the seventies the congregation grew rapidly, and many younger families became a significant element in the church makeup. Harriet Sue was a Bible School teacher at that time and continued in that capacity for several years.
Phil says he and his father-in-law, Ed, played on the same high school football team in Donelson—25 years apart, of course!
Other memories come from their travels. In addition to visiting Rex in Wyoming, they love to travel to the Smokies. They consider living near the mountains one of the great blessings of living in Tennessee.