ROGER ISHAM HALL
November 5, 1931 - November 28, 2020
Birmingham, UK - Winnipeg, Canada
Roger Isham Hall passed away peacefully at his residence on Saturday November 28, 2020 at the age of 89.
Roger is lovingly remembered by his wife Birgit (nee Hemkhaus), son Roland (Suzanne Oudejans), their children Annika and Andreas, son Manfred, his daughter Ilayda; daughter Brita; and sister Jackie Bristow. Roger is predeceased by his parents, Sidney and Olive Hall.
In the days since Roger’s passing, we received many cards, phone calls and email messages from around the world. In these correspondences, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours consistently describe Roger as a ‘true gentleman’ with a friendly face and smile who showed genuine interest in others, engaged in upbeat and intelligent conversation, and loved to tell stories with a warm sense of humour. He was a wonderful, devoted husband, father, and grandfather. These are hallmark characteristics with which Roger exerted positive influence on society and with which he continues to guide us as a role model.
Roger was born and grew up in Birmingham, located in the middle of England. He was at boarding school during World War II. There, his teachers and Headmaster recognized a level of intelligence in him that deserved a university education, and they convinced Roger’s dad to allow Roger to become the first person ever from his family to undertake a university degree. Roger received his first degree in Physics from the University of Birmingham.
That was followed by his National service (2 years), where he joined the Navy and was trained in the maintenance of the electrics and electronics on an aircraft carrier.
He continued another 8 years in the Naval Reserves, where he taught electrics and electronics on a minesweeper. He rose to the ranks of Lt. Commander. This led to a short career in the electronics industry as automation laboratory technician, production engineer, and production manager. Along the way, his company sent him to Imperial College London to study Production Engineering, and then to Newcastle (September 1, 1959) to serve as the Production Manager for a factory making radio tubes. Birgit happened to arrive in Newcastle on the same date, but it took 9 months before they met. They both joined the same hiking club, but Roger chose to go on the ‘C’ walks with the girls, while Birgit joined the ‘A’ walks with the boys. Eventually, they ended up on the same walk, met, fell in love, and ventured through life together as the wonderful loving couple we all know.
Before a year had passed, the transistor radio was invented, production of radio tubes halted, and Roger was made redundant. While looking for work, Roger visited his former professor for a reference. In that meeting the professor offered Roger a job as a lecturer at Imperial College London, which he began in 1960. But, as Roger tells the story, the professor shut the door and refused to let him leave until he agreed to take the position. Thus began Roger’s career in academia! Five years later, Roger became the second professor hired at the newly founded London Business School. During these years, Roger and Birgit started a family with the birth of Roland (1963) and Manfred (1965).
Their level of travel and adventure increased starting in 1966 when Roger and the family spent the summer in Athens, Greece, where he taught production engineering. Then, Roger took a first sabbatical leave to study at Harvard Business School. While there, Roger was asked by the London Business School if he might be interested to complete a PhD degree in order to help start a PhD program back at the London Business School. This led to enrolling in the PhD program at University of Washington in Seattle. So, Birgit and Roger packed their belongings into a U-Haul trailer, and with a tent and two young boys (5 and 3) they drove across the USA from coast to coast in 10 weeks in what they described as their ‘modern covered wagon’, on a route that roughly followed the renowned Lewis & Clarke Trail. In Seattle, Brita joined their family and Roger completed his PhD program. But England’s economy took a downturn, government grants to universities were cut, and Roger had no job to return to at the London Business School. At this time, Roger was offered a faculty position at University of Manitoba’s Business School. To get there, they packed their ‘modern covered wagon’ once more and drove north to Canada. Their drive was followed all the way by a snow storm, and they just got over Roger’s Pass in the Rocky Mountains before the snow closed it for two weeks! Roger and family arrived in Winnipeg on Boxing Day of 1970 in the middle of a snowstorm and temperatures of -30 Celsius, with $100 in their pockets to last 3 weeks until the first paycheque arrived. Somehow Roger and Birgit saw the bright side and opportunity of this situation and made Winnipeg home for the rest of his career and retirement. The cottage at West Hawk Lake served as a wonderful place for family time and greatly raised the quality of life. Roger loved watching the tiny humming birds visit the feeders he hung from trees, and he enjoyed the building and renovation projects over the years there.
Roger’s academic career was in Management Sciences with a focus on fields of Decision-Making, Organizational Analysis and Systems Dynamics. His activities included: member of the Academic Advisory Panel and member of the Committee for Management and Administrative Studies Strategic Research of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and President (1983-84) of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada. He received the Bronfman Foundation Senior Faculty Award, the Canadian Pacific Prize of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, and a first prize in the 1983 International Competition of the Institute of Management Sciences (College on Organization) for the most innovative new contribution to the field of Organizational Analysis. Roger retired with the title of Full Professor on June 1st, 1997 after serving for 27 years at the University of Manitoba – quite an achievement given this was his self-described fifth career! During these years, Roger and family enjoyed teaching-related travel to Perth, Australia (1974) and Xian, China (1985), and sabbatical years in Leeds-Bradford, England (1977-78) and Warwick, England (1984-85).
Roger engaged in many community activities, ranging from assisting with his children’s sports to participating for decades in gourmet groups with neighbourhood friends and university colleagues. He was particularly involved with Special Olympics, coaching cross-country skiing for many years. Brita’s ski competitions took Roger and Birgit all over Canada and the USA, and even to international Paralympics at Lillehammer, Norway and Nagano, Japan, and to Summer Special Olympics in Shanghai, China. Roger enjoyed attending the Symphony and theatre performances, with season tickets for 30 years.
Roger stayed active in retirement. He built a Guest Cottage on the property at West Hawk Lake, and he wrote a book that spanned his childhood years up until meeting Birgit and their marriage in Germany. Roger wrote the book while participating in a story writing group organized by a local adult-living center. It is a wonderful legacy for the family and friends he has left behind. The book is entitled ‘Just Lucky.’ The Preface states: ‘Roger has said he was “in the right place at the right time,” finding himself in “wild” circumstances that just happened to turn out right.’ Roger wrote that he ‘was just lucky while being unlucky.’ But we all know that serendipity only works when you are paying attention. And, as we all know, Roger was always paying attention!
In keeping with his wishes, cremation has taken place and no formal services will be held. Roger’s family kindly requests that his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos and/or sharing your own memories and stories using the comment section on this page.
ETHICAL DEATH CARE
Cremation & Life Celebrations
530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg
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