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BY ALBERT AMATEAU | Tom Hall, the manager of the Woodward Gallery on the Lower East Side for 16 years, died Jan. 2 of mesothelioma lung cancer at the age of 66.
A longtime friend of the gallery director, John Woodward, he was offered the job as manager in 1996 two years after the gallery opened at 133 Eldridge St.
“Tom completely organized the gallery. He was the front line to the public and an integral part of our growth and development,” said Kristine Woodward, his friend and a partner in the gallery.
While in his 20s, Tom Hall was in the Navy from 1966 to 1969 during the Vietnam conflict. His diagnosis about a year ago with mesothelioma lung cancer was likely the result of his Navy service when his engine rating meant that he spent his working watches at sea in boiler rooms lined with asbestos, according to his longtime partner, Teresa Gindi
“He fought a rugged battle last year, underwent two major surgeries and several courses of brutal chemotherapy. Before that he wasn’t sick a day in his life,” Kristine Woodward said. “He was an ardent vegetarian and an outdoorsman who loved the wilderness and camping.”
“Camping out in a tent was like being in a five-star hotel for Tom,” said Gindi, who noted that he was meticulous about preserving his campsite environment.
A resident of W. 14th St. with Gindi, Tom Hall was a painter and sculptor who also wrote, directed and produced two full-length documentary films in 2008 and 2010, “Gold, Money and Oil” and “Response to Peak Oil.”
In the 1980s he worked for a producer of cultural exhibits for the Smithsonian Institute and NASA.
Born in Manhattan to Frederick and Elizabeth Shea Hall, he graduated from Kean University in New Jersey after his Navy service and earned a master’s degree in art from Montclair State College.
In addition to Gindi, a son, Aaron Hall, and a sister, Elizabeth Marie Chester, both of New Jersey, also survive.
Woodward Gallery will host a celebration of Tom’s life in about a month, details to be posted on the Web site www.WoodwardGallery.net.
Clayton Patterson, who runs the Clayton Gallery and Outlaw Art Museum and Gallery, at 161 Essex St., has fond memories of Hall.
“One of the many pleasures I got from visiting Woodward Gallery was talking to Tom,” Patterson said. “For me, Tom Hall was the point man, the go-to guy, the serious, yet warm, welcoming person guarding the fort. Although he was a Vietnam veteran, a painter and sculptor, where we most connected was his love of documentary films.
“He started to make movies later in life. The DVD he made and gave to me was called ‘Response to Peak Oil,’ which emphasizes the need to go green. With declining oil reserves, we have increased our dependency on oil!”