In Memory


Myrton Hall, who oversaw Omaha’s integration busing in 1970s, dies at 95

By Michael Kelly / World-Herald staff writer


Myrton Hall, who oversaw Omaha’s integration busing of the 1970s and the construction and renovation of schools, has died at 95.  “He had a commanding presence,” said son Randall Hall. “He kept in contact with teachers and was loyal to them. People respected him.”

The elder Hall, 6-foot-3, is best remembered as the longtime assistant superintendent of business services for the Omaha Public Schools.  After a federal court ordered integration busing, it went more smoothly in Omaha than in many other cities, which had faced angry protests.  “Omaha worked,” Hall’s son said. “There were major headaches, but Dad liked challenges.”

Myrt Hall was born in Council Bluffs, and his family moved to Fairbury, Nebraska, when he was in fourth grade. He ran track in high school and boxed in the Golden Gloves, and played football at Peru State College.  During World War II, he served as a motor machinist in the Coast Guard. He and wife Dee became educators and suffered a tragedy when their 5-year-old daughter, Patricia, died of a brain tumor in 1952.

After serving as a junior high principal in Falls City, Myrt moved to Omaha and in 1958 became the first principal of McMillan Junior High.  He rose to assistant superintendent, in charge of road services, transportation, purchasing, supplies, maintenance and school construction. He retired in the late 1980s.

Hall and his wife, a former OPS principal, stayed active as volunteers and with genealogical research related to the national Nims Family Association. Myrt was a descendant of Godrey Nims, who immigrated to Massachusetts in 1666.

Dee Hall, Myrt’s wife of 69 years, died five years ago at 89. Randy said he was surprised his dad lived so long afterward “because they were inseparable.”

In his final years, Myrt moved to an assisted-living center in St. Paul, Minnesota, near Randy’s home. The elder Hall fell in September and died Feb. 21 of its complications.

A private family service was held in St. Paul. A memorial service, the son said, might be held later in Omaha.

The mandatory busing program ended in 1999. In a 1984 World-Herald interview, Myrt Hall said he appreciated that despite some opposition, Omaha had accepted it as a way to achieve integration.

“The system is working,” he said, “and I’m proud of that.”

Click here to see Myrton's last Profile entry.