(June 23, 1923 – Feb. 18, 2017)
As head of the Department of Horticulture, Charles Hall brought the department national recognition.
Charles V. Hall (Charlie) was born in near Kittle, a small Fulton County community in northern Arkansas on June 23, 1923 and graduated from Ash Flat High School in 1942. Charlie served with the Army Corps of Engineers in Europe for 21 months during World War II. After completing his tour of duty, Charlie entered the University of Arkansas, eventually receiving his BS in Agriculture (1950) and MS in Horticulture (1953). Charlie then moved to Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) where he served as an Assistant Professor of Horticulture while earning his PhD in the biological sciences of Entomology, Botany, Plant Pathology, and Plant Breeding (1960). One year later he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, and in 1969, he became Professor of Horticulture. In 1974, Dr. Hall, wife Elsie, and family moved north to Ames so that Charlie could become Head of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University. Dr. Hall served in that capacity until his retirement in 1990, at which time he was accorded the designation, Professor Emeritus.
During his time on the faculty at Kansas State, Dr. Hall designed one of the first plant sciences courses and developed an introductory course in the elements of horticulture. Dr. Hall also was a popular student counselor, served on the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council, and was advisor to the KSU Horticulture Club. And in 1972 he appeared in the publications Crops and Soils and Seed World as the featured scientist.
In the research arena, Dr. Hall spent the majority of his time focusing on the breeding, genetics, and cultivar development of watermelons and muskmelons. But his crowning achievement was the development and commercial introduction of six watermelon cultivars including 'Crimson Sweet', 'All Sweet', 'Super Sweet', and 'Petite Sweet'. These cultivars and hybrids from these parents are known for their disease resistance, small dark seeds, thin rind, and flavor and texture components that have made them popular, the world over. For instance, 'Crimson Sweet', released in 1963, is grown in more than 50 countries.
Dr. Hall continued his watermelon breeding and commercialization work after joining ISU’s Department of Horticulture, introducing 'Crimson Beauty' and 'IA 1' and two hybrids ('Sentinel' and 'Delta') from those selections.
Dr. Hall earned many awards, honors, and accolades during his long and productive academic career. In 1963, he and his graduate student received the Asgrow Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science for their paper, The Biochemistry of Anthracnose Resistance in Watermelon. In 1972 Dr. Hall received the Marion Meadows Award for outstanding contributions to graduate student research. In 1973, Northrup- King recognized Dr. Hall with its Distinguished Scientist Award and in that same year he became a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). In 1988, fourteen years after his departure, the governor of Kansas awarded Dr. Hall with a Certificate of Recognition for his many and varied contributions to agriculture in the state. In 1998, Dr. Hall received the Outstanding Horticultural Alumni Award from the University of Arkansas. And in 2002, at the International Conference on Vegetable Crops in Bangalore, India, Dr. Hall received the Gold Medal Award for his many contributions to the vegetable crops industry.
As an administrator, Dr. Hall helped move ISU’s Department of Horticulture into a more prominent role on the national horticulture scene. In the late 1970’s he worked tirelessly to build support for the remodeling and expansion of Horticulture Hall. And he was the driving force behind Iowa State University’s successful bid to host the 79th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 1982.
If you visit Horticulture Hall on the Iowa State University campus, you will note the department conference room (Room 110, Horticulture Hall) and the horticulture greenhouses have been named in honor of Dr. Hall and his many achievements and contributions to horticulture in Iowa and at Iowa State University.
After his retirement, Dr. Hall moved to Manhattan, Kansas with his wife Elsie, and he continued to be a friend and advocate for the ISU Department of Horticulture.
Hall passed away in 2017. He was interred with military honors in Wiles Cemetery at Ash Flat, AK.
Charles V. Hall Papers, RS 9/16/22, Special Collections Department, Parks Library, Iowa State University;
Watermelons as Food in the 21st Century in Food Security and Vegetables – A Global Perspective, pp. 135-148 (2004)
Personal communication with Charles V. Hall.