Mark Hall

Profile Updated: July 14, 2014
Mark Hall
What is the name of your Spouse or Partner? Susan C. Hall
Do you have Children/Grandchildren? What are their names and ages? Mine: Rachel (1977), Kenyon (1980)
Hers: Monica(1974), Michael (1977), Emily (1979)
Where do you live now? Oceano, CA USA
What is your occupation? Priest, Canon to the Ordinary, Dio of San Joaquin,
Military Service: USAF
Yes! Attending Reunion
Classmate Interview

Interview by Judith Campanaro March 25, 2010

There are people who walk this earth who have little inkling of the lives they’ve touched. I think they’re called “angels unawares” and that seems true for Mark. When I met him at Starbucks in Bakersfield he was tired, already having driven that day five hours around the diocese, and he still had another two hours to go. Although he is the executive officer of his diocese (also known as the Canon to the Ordinary or bishop), Mark is quite modest about his accomplishments. When I asked him if he was “happy” with his life of service, he answered, “I have always felt that I should be doing more with my life, but I suppose that I have done a lot of things. My natural proclivity is to see all the things I haven’t done, as opposed to the reveling in the things I’ve done. I don’t think I could have imagined a life that did not include service. My mother taught me well.” It is clear that his life is not about him, but others.

Over the years Mark’s life has taken him in many diverse directions. He called it “a spotty career path.” After graduation with the class of ’64, Mark won a competitive appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He was one of only 278 selected in the nation to attend that year. Mark said that they tried to make an engineer out of him, but he knew that wasn’t his path, and with his hopes a little marred he left the Academy in 1967 a year before graduation. Looking back, Mark said, “My life would have taken a much different path had I graduated from the Academy. I certainly couldn’t have imagined what my life was going to be then.” Walt Whitman said, “My real self has yet to come forth.” That seems to have been true for Mark as well, as he moved on to new adventures.

After the Academy Mark traveled around for a while, worked on a schooner out of Miami, for a Seaman’s House in New Orleans, then landed a job with John Hancock Insurance in Boston. He married a woman he met while in New London and they moved to Hawaii to work for different insurance company. His marriage lasted less than a year. Mark joked, “It wasn’t a very good marriage, it should have been just a good affair.” He made the best of his situation though, attending the University of Hawaii and graduating with a BA in History with an emphasis on East Asia. There’s an anonymous quote that says “If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery, if you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do.” Mark was getting closer to discovering what he loved to do.

His next adventure brought him back to Ojai in December 1969 where he helped his dad run the ranch and taught a semester at Happy Valley School. In the fall he enrolled at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After completing his first year, Mark was offered a position as an exchange student in Puerto Rico. He spent three semesters at the tri-lingual (English, Spanish, and French) seminary, then, returned to Cambridge to finish his last semester, graduating in 1973 with a Masters of Divinity. After graduation, Mark joined the Air Force, trained as a navigator, and while on active duty, applied for ordination. Mark said, “I’m the only person in the Episcopal Church who was approved three times for ordination in three different diocese, because every time I’d get ready for ordination, the Air Force transferred me someplace else.” Finally, in 1975, the bishop of Maine ordained Mark deacon, and six months later, in March of 1976, priest. While stationed in California, Mark married a woman he had met at officer training. The Air Force sent them to Maine and then to Washington State. Although the marriage didn’t last, Mark does have two wonderful children, Rachel and Kenyon (and he is still on good terms with his ex-wife.)

Mark served on active duty until 1980, transferring to the Air Force Reserves as a chaplain, retiring as a Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel in 1995. He continued to serve the church in Maine, in Washington State and in the San Joaquin Valley when he returned there in 1987. Besides serving the church, Mark also taught High School for four years, and even helped start a charter school with the Salvation Army. Since 1987 he has been involved with Rotary International, twice serving as club president, doing service projects in Mexico, and doing a friendship exchange program in India.

When asked what he felt was his greatest accomplishment, Mark answered, “My marriage to Susan and my family.” He met Susan at one of the churches he was temporarily serving. They got to know each other better when they worked as camp counselors. Mark said, “We hit it off exceptionally well and were married in 1990.” Together they have five children: Mark’s two, and Susan’s three from their previous marriages. They have three grandchildren, with another on the way.

Mark now helps run the Diocese of San Joaquin as the assistant to the provisional Bishop (who dedicates only a ¼ of his time to the job), and as such is a very busy man. He says that they are looking for a full time bishop and when they find one he hopes he can retire. When that time comes he wants to spend more time with the grandkids, do some more Rotary projects and finally enjoy his motor home and sail boat. Mark said, “I dreamed of sailing around the world. I doubt that will happen. However, I am looking to explore a lot of North America by camper and boat. But, I think I’ll go by airplane to New Zealand and Australia!” Whatever he chooses to do, I know this man of the cloth will be richly blessed because his life has truly blessed many others along his path.

What do you do now?

I retired in 2011, and have spent the last three years rebuilding a 34 foot aluminum schooner. I'd like to start cruising in April 2015 in the Pacific. We recently bought a home in Oceano, and hope to move there before we start cruising. My father died last year after a long illness. I had provided a significant part of his care, and also managed his finances. My brother Luke and I are the trustees of the family trust, and we are still engaged in resolving that. When I'm not working on the boat, I am filling in at different churches, and recently have been appointed priest in charge of a returning parish in Stockton. I hope to work myself out of that job soon.

Do/did you belong to any volunteer organizations?

I've been a Rotarian since 1987, and have served twice as club president in two different clubs. With Rotary I have traveled to Canada, Spain, and India.

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