A farewell to Jon N. Hall
Time has claimed yet another AT contributor: Jon N. Hall died this past January 17 at the age of 76.
Jon Hall was born on August 7, 1946, in Kirksville, Missouri, to Glenn Franklin Hall and Carolyn Joan Nelson Hall. He spent most of his life in the Kansas City area, graduating from Park Hill High School in 1964 and the University of Missouri-Columbia four years later.
Writing for AT, Jon contributed an impressive 418 pieces, which puts him firmly in the upper bracket of AT writers. Rarely did a month go by without a new contribution, and usually more than one. His first piece appeared in January 2009, his final one, "Citizenship and Intervening in Elections," on November 30 last year.
His essays were marked by close argument, solid research, and attention to detail, unsurprising coming from a professional computer programmer. He ranged across the gamut of political, social, and even artistic topics, including constitutional law, reindustrialization, Bobby Fischer, election law, the films of Ridley Scott and Lars von Trier, the Tea Party, and Obamacare.
Two topics that particularly drew his interest were election law and economics, notably inflation. (My first exchange with Jon, with whom I worked for many years, involved this very topic.) Jon was ahead of his time here, clearly foreseeing our current inflationary predicament as early as the mid-teens.
His work on electoral law, particularly as regards election fraud, was also prescient as well as being far more realist (though never cynical) than most concerning our battered and debased electoral system.
Here's a quote from "Mail-in Voting and the Future of American Democracy":
The way that elections are conducted in the Blue States shows just how little the so-called "Democratic Party" thinks of democracy, not to mention citizenship. Perhaps Democrats think that democracy is only real if Democrats are elected.
That was published on August 12, 2020, several months before the event that he referred to as the "hijacking."
Jon Hall was also a gifted musician, playing the trumpet, which gained him a full music scholarship from Mizzou. He gave up the trumpet in favor of opera singing in later years, possessing what is described as "an amazing Basso Profundo" that graced performances with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He had the gift of perfect pitch and could sight-read to order. Jon expressed his love of opera for AT in an essay titled "A Most Singular Woman."
He was also something of an artist, specializing in pencil portraits of beloved composers such as Wagner (probably his favorite composer) and Arturo Toscanini.
What is most impressive about all these achievements is that they were gained while Jon was suffering from severe OCD. Jon's case was serious enough to curtail such things as travel and total freedom in social life. Those who suffer from this affliction, too often dismissed as trivial, will know how debilitating it can be. Jon never called attention to it — I personally worked with him for many years, and had no idea until I was informed by his sister Patricia after his death.
Jon leaves behind two sisters: Janet Hall Barnhart and Patricia Hall Miller, nephews Clint Barnhart and John Glenn Miller, and a niece, Jennifer Barnhart Parish.
Jon's contribution to AT was enormous, and he can never be replaced in any meaningful sense. The work remains, the legacy of a man of great courage, insight, and passionate intensity.
Jon N. Hall, August 7, 1946 – January 17, 2023.
Photo courtesy of Patricia Miller.