As a young man during World War II, Barry Earl Hall volunteered for military duty serving as a bombing navigator in the Allies effort to rid the world of evil. For 95 years Barry has navigated through times of war and peace, serving every mission given him with 100% of his energy and commitment both to his country and to God.
Born in Morden, Manitoba February 10, 1921, Barry was the first of three children. At the onset of WW II in 1939, Barry worked during the summers until 1942, when the pull of world conflict propelled him into the Armed Forces. “I joined because I could,” he explains. “I thought I could join the Navy, because I’d built small boats all my life. When I went to the RCN office the only job they had was stoker, I didn’t like the sound of that, so I went across the street to the RCAF building and joined as a Pilot, but ended up as a Navigator.
After their first child in 1947, the family settled in Victoria. “Our baby had asthma and allergies and needed a shot of adrenalin during an attack. The Elders had given Jessie a Book of Mormon, but she wasn’t excited about it and put it on a shelf. One time after baby had a troubling asthmatic episode she looked up, saw the Book of Mormon on the shelf, took it down and started reading it. That was the beginning of her faith.”
When Jessie sent her family in Kitchener a Book of Mormon, her Presbyterian father sent Jessie’s sister, Joan to talk her out of joining the Church. Joan sat in on the missionary discussions and felt the Spirit. She and Jessie got baptized in a bay in Thetis Lake in Victoria in 1953. “From there on I was more or less a taxi driver driving them back and forth to the Church and other activities,” Barry says. “I was considered a ‘dry Mormon’—living the laws, but not baptized.”
Joan served a mission in South Africa. When she returned to Ontario, Thomas Monson, Mission President in Canada Toronto area, connected Joan with Deseret Newspaper in Salt Lake City for a job. There she married and had a family.
“I’d grown up in the United Church of Canada. It had all the Christian teachings and hymns. My father was sunday school superintendent there. I’d even been a member of the choir, but between the war and school, my attendance suffered. I had a lot of love and loyalty for my parents and membership there, so I found it hard to break away. The turning point came at an area conference in Vancouver in 1962. Hugh B. Brown, a Canadian, and a Major in the Canadian Army during WWII, was the visiting authority. I knew he was a good guy and I figured if he believes, I’d better take the next step and get baptized. The definition of sacrifice is giving up something good for something better. I had something good, but unanswered questions, also. New revelation and doctrine added another layer to what I already had. I didn’t have to throw away anything. It took me a number of years to figure it all out, but I knew when I joined, I’d be in 100%.”
Within a few months Barry was called as the Branch President of Victoria 1st Branch. He served in that capacity from 1964 to1969. With the local members’ help the Victoria chapel built in 1961 added a third phase in1969. “We had to pay for own buildings at that time. Our branch delivered flyers every week for local business to raise money for building funds,” Barry says. Word came that there was a need for foster homes for babies. The program offered permanent foster children. Barry and Jessie took one child then and had one more in 1969. Barry was called into the District Presidency in 1969. 1975 a stake was formed. Barry served in other positions including high counsel.
At age 66 Barry and Jessie accepted a call to the Canada Halifax mission which included all of the Maritime Provinces’, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. There they met a lady at a Farmers Market in Woodstock, New Brunswick and got to be good friends with her and her husband. “We invited ourselves up to their farm and found ways to help Roberta and George with their business making cider. We spent that whole first cold winter with them. By Spring they’d joined the Church.”
Barry and Jessie served a second mission in 1990-1991 for the Genealogical Society of Utah microfilming vital records and working with the Board in Portland Maine. “We put in full eight hour days, recording at one point 400,000 death records. When the couple returned home they served a Church Service Mission and later did extraction work for nine years in Victoria Stake. They also served as Seattle Temple workers for a year and half.