Edna Hall was well-known in Atlantic City for decades.
The lifelong resident was known around her neighborhood, the Northeast Inlet, for leading a fight to rebuild housing after the casinos got to town in 1978.
And when the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority did rebuild entire blocks of the Inlet, hundreds of houses, Hall got to be known as founder of the First Ward Civic Association, a group that’s stayed active in the neighborhood ever since.
She was known at City Hall too, as campaign manager and then aide to two now-deceased City Council members, Edward Byard and John Kelley. Hall retired in 1992, for the second time — she was already retired from a career at Spencer Gifts when she got into politics. This newspaper ran a story saying she was leaving her job; the reporter wrote that “Hall has been ... more of an ally than an aide” to her councilmen.
But after Hall died last month, at 88, her only child said that anyone who knew only the public Edna Hall didn’t know the real Edna Hall — or the full one, anyway.
“All that stuff was in the obit,” said Elonda Currie, Hall’s daughter, who lives and teaches in Atlantic City. “But my mother was always fun-loving too. She always wanted to go places and do things.”
Michael Johnson, a longtime friend who also worked with her in Atlantic City’s NAACP branch — where Hall was active for years — saw lots of the lighter side of her life.
“She liked to laugh, liked to party, liked to dance,” Johnson said. “She liked calypso music, doing the cha-cha and those Caribbean-type dances.”
As much as Hall liked having a good time, she also liked planning a good time. And she didn’t mind turning a good time into a good cause — which combined two key pieces of her personality.
“One thing she always did was fundraising,” Currie said, laughing about something she heard recently from an old friend of her mom. “She told me, ‘I spent most of my pension check paying your mother for all those events she had. She was always having something.’”
Hall didn’t mind asking for money for causes she believed in.
“That was her area,” her daughter said. “She did it for St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church (in Atlantic City), she did it for the NAACP for so many years,” and the list goes on.
Another longtime friend, Juanita Johnson, 84, knew Hall from St. Augustine’s. But church wasn’t their only place to meet.
“We went around a lot together,” Juanita Johnson said. “She was just a good old pal, you know? We palled around a lot, and we laughed a lot. And I miss her too.”
Hall definitely had her serious side, which is why she was known in her hometown. But lots of old friends, and her family, miss her other side too.
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