Written by Sylvia Hernandez, MLIS
Today we celebrate the nomination of Sam B. Hall Jr. as United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. On April 17, 1985, President Ronald Reagan selected Sam Hall to fill the vacancy that would return him home to his beloved Marshall, Texas. This honor, among others, studded his career as lawyer, Congressman, and Judge.
Sam B. Hall Jr. led a life of service dedicated to his community and country. After completion of his studies at the College of Marshall (now East Texas Baptist University), Hall joined the Army Air Corps during World War II, serving from 1943-1945. He studied at Baylor University and obtained a Law Degree in 1948. After passing the bar, he began practicing law in his hometown of Marshall, Texas. Sam Hall spent the next 28 years building upon his local upbringing and endearing himself to the area.
In 1976, a special election for the 1st Congressional District of Texas was held after the passing of Wright Patman. Hall ran a successful campaign and was voted to further serve his country and community as United States Congressman. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and several Select and Subcommittees, Hall made quite the impact throughout his tenure. This was recognized by Texas Business magazine in 1980 as he was voted “Best Conservative” for his efforts in regards to the business community.
As a proud Baylor University Alum, it was only fitting that Congressman Hall was selected as one of the Baylor Distinguished Alumni in 1984. Hall held his time at Baylor in high regard as he stated in his interview with the Baylor Line Magazine, “…[M]y education at Baylor sounded moral principles in harmony with my own. In the atmosphere Baylor creates, I was able to confirm the perception that religious values are not something you keep in a compartment of your life for Sunday mornings. Those values guide all your actions and words.”
His values consistently guided his actions. The National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs awarded his work with Veterans with the organization’s “Special President’s Award” and his constituency awarded him in five elections as Representative of the 1st Congressional District.
Hall’s consistent contact with his district, and continued interest in law, made him an ideal candidate for United States Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. He was nominated on April 17, 1985 by President Ronald Reagan and officially installed as a Federal Judge on May 10, 1985. His dedication to his community was evident in the speech he gave that day as he noted, “looking out over this audience … I see people I’ve known all my life … And there are no strangers here at all to me.” Over 250 members of his community attended a reception in his honor at the Marshall Civic Center following the installation ceremony.
Baylor once again honored Sam Hall in 1991; this time the Law School selected him as “Lawyer of the Year.” That same year he also witnessed the unveiling of his official portrait to hang in the courthouse in which he served. Sam Hall’s faith in God carried him throughout his life and career. In the moment, he was sure to give praise as he read the following passage:
I give you thanks, oh, God, for those who mean so much to me, those to whom I can go at any time, those with whom I can talk and keep nothing back, knowing that they will not laugh at my dreams or my failures, those in whose presence it is easier to be good, those who by their warnings have held me back from mistakes I might have made. Above all, I thank you for Jesus Christ, Lord of my heart, and savior of my soul.
Sam B. Hall, Jr. spent many years in the Marshall, Texas Court House. It was his home as he practiced law, housed his Congressional District home office, and provided a bench as he presided over court as Federal Judge. On May 25, 1995, the building was officially named the “Sam B. Hall, Jr. Federal Building and United States Court House.” A befitting honor to the man who served his community, constituents, and country until his passing on April 10, 1994.