Almost a year to the day after he died, former Rep. Ralph M. Hall is on his way to getting a memorial that is quintessentially “Congress” — a post office in his name.
The legislation, introduced by the same man who defeated Hall in his final election, cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, earning approval from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. It would put his name on the postal facility in Fate, Texas, the town where he was born.
Known for his gentle humor, Hall spent 34 years as a member, the first 23 as a Democrat and the rest as a Republican. His congressional career came to an end after John Ratcliffe beat him in a primary runoff in 2014.
Hall was 91 years old at the time, making him the oldest member to ever serve in the House.
He represented a district that, despite being constantly tinkered with, generally took in a sizable chunk of northeast Texas. A founder of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, he strayed from the party line more than any other House member in the early 2000s. His party switch in 2004 would diminish his power when Democrats retook control of the House a few years later, but it allowed him to survive in a district reconfigured to favor Republicans.
To put voters at ease in his 2012 campaign, Hall went skydiving because “you can’t jump out of a damn airplane if you’re too old,” he said. “Nothing to it, I’d done it during the war.” (That would be World War II.)
In November 2012, on the day he became the oldest person to cast a vote as a member, colleagues from both parties took to the floor to share stories, including of Hall playing baseball with Ted Williams while in the Navy and once running into Bonnie and Clyde.
“I’ve enjoyed the speeches I’ve listened to here,” Hall said. “A lot of it was true.”
He died on March 7, 2019.
Congress named a post office after another longtime lawmaker last year: Democrat Louise M. Slaughter of New York.