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  • Remembering Adele Hall

    by Senator Pat Roberts

    Posted on 2013-02-04

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    ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to a most remarkable woman. In just a few hours, a celebration of life service will be held at St. Andrew's Church in Kansas City for Adele Hall, described by the Kansas City Star in a front-page headline as ``first lady'' of Kansas City.



    Adele was in Hawaii with her husband Don Hall, chairman of Hallmark Cards, when she passed away. To say they were a remarkable couple is an understatement. They met when she was 3 years old and Don was 6. Adele said: I don't ever remember falling in love with Don. I just grew up being in love with him.

    As the Star reported, her priorities were always with her husband and her three children. In addition to her love and caring for her family, Adele Hall had a unique ability to lead, and lead she did. Living a life of caring and contribution, making a difference and demonstrating to all whose lives she touched and made better, she was a wonderful example of honor and respect.

    Adele's many accomplishments were almost legendary. She would demure from that description with her wonderful smile and give credit to others. It [[Page S451]] was how she accomplished so much that serves as such a wonderful example and why she was so beloved.

    The friends of Don and Adele and those with whom she worked describe her best. Henry Bloch, the founder of H&R Block and a lifelong friend, said: If there ever was a first lady of Kansas City, it was Adele. She was honored and respected by everybody. It's a major loss for this community.

    Irv Hockaday, a former CEO of Hallmark and a friend of Adele and Don's for close to 50 years, said: She was like a magnetic sun . . . whose constant warmth and magnetism just had a pull. And people gravitated to her. To me, her most compelling quality, of many, was her empathy.

    They say that no one is indispensable. That's true in a way. But she comes about as close to being someone we can never, ever forget or replicate.

    Irv Hockaday certainly captured Adele, as did Steven Doyal, spokesman for Hallmark Cards: We lost a great human being. Her greatest passion was in the area of children. She believed passionately in the potential of every child.

    At Children's Mercy Hospital, Adele moved easily from rocking sick babies in the nursery to running board meetings and leading multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns. One of the best known was with Tom Watson, with whom she established the Children's Mercy Golf Classic.

    Jack Ovel, the hospital board chairman, said: She was quick to give others credit. She was always telling other people, ``You are the wind beneath my wings.'' Perhaps her most notable collaborative effort was bringing the University of Kansas and Children's Mercy together. Early on she realized what that would mean for residents of Kansas City.

    Jim Heeter, president of the Greater City Chamber of Commerce, described the news of Adele's passing, which came in the middle of the monthly chamber board meeting: The entire room fell into stunned silence when it was announced. She was known and loved by virtually everyone around our board table. We observed a long moment of silence in her honor and her memory.

    Mary Shaw ``Shawsie'' Branton, who was her copartner and close friend in one charitable and/or civic event after another said of Adele: I have lost a close friend. She touched all our lives. There was an aura around Adele, `How can I help? What can I do? . . . How can I find a solution?' ``This is a great day of sorrow,'' said Sarah Rowland, chairwoman of the Nelson-Atkins board of trustees.

    Jane Chu, CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts said: Everything she did was about inspiring Kansas City residents. She so believed in these projects because she so believed in this city, she cared about making it a great place to live.

    One can clearly see by the many comments of Adele's friends and leaders in Kansas City, with regard to their sense of personal loss, expressions of admiration of love and respect for the world of achievements Adele accomplished, there is only one Adele Hall.

    In my case, Mr. President, I was on the floor of this body last Monday during a series of votes taking place when a cloakroom attendant gave me a message to call my office immediately. I did, and my chief of staff, Jackie Cottrell, came over to the cloakroom and told me of the news of Adele's untimely passing.

    There are certain people in life where you feel you are privileged just to know them--people who make a difference, really nice people who give you a certain sense of awe, people who are really not aware of their special and unique persona. Adele had that certain something--a unique charisma, comprised of a wonderful smile, charm and grace, but also the determination and ability of a leader.

    When she came into a room, those present knew things would get done. She always stood ready in friendship and support and love. Unfortunately, given her strength of purpose, she was also the kind of person you might well take for granted.

    Jackie and I immediately called Annie Presley, a good friend and companion-in-arms with Adele. Annie and I couldn't say too much during that phone call, but I did blurt out, ``Well, it's the end of an era.'' And it is. Adele, in addition to all of her civic and art works, had tremendous influence, serving as an adviser, a friend, and supporter to Presidents, Governors, Senators, Congressional Members, and city leaders. Annie was right by her side in these endeavors. Her passion for politics made both Kansas and Missouri a better place to live. Her advice, her guidance, and support were invaluable to so many. Don and Adele's Kansas home was the setting for countless benefactor receptions. The list represents a Who's Who in politics, from both Presidents Bush, Senators Bob Dole, Kit Bond, Nancy Kassebaum, and, yes, somebody by the name of Pat Roberts.

    My friendship with Don and Adele began more than 20 years ago. I admit I was a bit nervous the first time I was invited to their home. I arrived early and Adele warmly greeted me, welcomed me in. Don took me into the study, and after some discussion we all ended up listening to the Andrews Sisters--I don't know why--until we were informed it was time to greet the other guests. I think Don and I would have been there a lot longer if Don had his way. We have been great friends ever since.

    Perhaps the highlight of our efforts together was when First Lady Laura Bush came to Kansas, and together we welcomed her to our great State.

    Finally, Mr. President, when I talk about Adele's respect and her humility, I am reminded of the story when President Bush came to Wichita on my behalf. The White House staff and security, God bless them, had names on the floor in the reception room, and those who were greeting the President had to stand on the right name. God knows what would have happened if you didn't stand on the right name.

    Adele stood exactly as instructed on her name, without any hesitation. I did not do that. I didn't follow orders quite as well. I met with the President's vehicle and hurriedly told him our special guests were standing at attention at their appropriate spot, which amused the President greatly. The secret, of course, was that Don and Adele often stayed at the White House as guests of both George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

    When President Bush came in the room, he asked: Adele, are you standing in the right place? She replied quickly: Why, Mr. President--George--I will stand wherever you want me to.

    That really produced a lot of laughs and prompted a big hug.

    Mr. President, today's obligations in the Senate prevent me from attending the celebration of life service, but I am there in spirit. To Don, Don Jr. and Jill, David and Laura, Margaret and Keith, and Adele's nine grandchildren, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I feel compelled to say if all of the people in the Kansas City area could be in attendance, those who loved Adele or who have benefited from her many endeavors, the numbers would fill Arrowhead Stadium and then some.

    Helen Steiner Rice may well have summed up what Adele would be telling us now: When I must leave you for a little while, please go on bravely with a gallant smile. And, for my sake and in my name, live on and do all things the same. Spend not your life in empty days, but fill each waking hour in useful ways. Reach out your hand in comfort and in cheer, and I, in turn, will comfort you and hold you near.

    Mr. President, the heavens are a little brighter now because they have a shining star in Adele Hall.

    I yield the floor, and upon careful study I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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