She became the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau director of festivals and events in 1998—a role she occupied for more than two decades until she died Aug. 22 at the age of 68.
During her tenure as director of festivals and events, GrapeFest, Main Street Fest, the city’s famous Christmas festivities and other events such as Butterfly Flutterby that Grapevine is known for continued to grow in popularity.
“The festivals grew because ... they were produced at a high quality,” Grapevine Mayor William Tate said. “Gayle was able to produce an environment through her organization and leadership ... where people wanted to come back year after year.”
Tate said Hall became the face of Grapevine’s festivals. Grapevine Mayor Pro Tem Darlene Freed agreed.
“You’ll see a million pictures of her, having been involved in running festivals, and she’s always got the headset on,” Freed said. “If there was anything that you needed to get done during a festival—one call to Gayle, and we knew it was taken care of.”
Hall’s life was celebrated Aug. 31 at First Baptist Church in Grapevine with a memorial service that was followed by a horse-drawn hearse procession to the Grapevine Convention Center, where attendees enjoyed a reception titled “Gayle’s Taste of Grapevine” featuring local restaurants. Many attendees were past festival volunteers who wore shirts from the events they worked. Others were staff from the city's many departments, many of whom had coordinated with Hall over the years to pull off the various events, according to Freed.
Hall, a Grapevine native, was recognized in January as D.E. Box Citizen of the Year by the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce.
“As far as I’m concerned, we work and live in the best community that we can live in—and I support it 150%,” Hall said in accepting the award. “And if you don’t, then get off the wagon.”
That pride in Grapevine is something her brother, Junior Hall, said comes from the family’s long tradition in the city. Junior Hall said the family arrived in Grapevine from Prussia in the 1870s and later operated a grocery store and the Catfish Hut, a longtime staple of the community that is the property occupied by Paradise Cove.
“We’re very proud of our history in this town,” Junior Hall said. “We are actually fifth-generation here. ... [Gayle] was always proud of Grapevine because she was raised here.”
Gayle Hall was Miss Grapevine Lake in 1968 and was an active volunteer with the city before taking on the director role she later occupied. Tate said the work ethic Gayle Hall brought to her role with the CVB was characteristic of the family.
As the festivals grew in stature, Hall worked longer hours and had even more responsibilities.
According to LuAnn Chapman Gatts, a close friend of Gayle Hall and a longtime festival volunteer, Gayle Hall proactively sought out further training and accreditation in her role and became involved with the International Festival and Events Association.
“She actually learned the festival event business on the job—she was committed to education,” Chapman said. “She knew that if you're going to be in the business, you have to be the best.”
Gayle Hall was known to speak her mind, and close friends acknowledged she was not someone to mess around with. In spite of that, she was also known to be fiercely loyal to anyone who worked or volunteered for the city.
“You did not mess with a volunteer,” Chapman said. “She just was incredibly protective of the people that she knew and loved and worked with.”
Freed points to the bond that Gayle Hall developed with the city’s various employees whom she had to work with to see the festivals came to fruition.
In a Facebook post by the city of Grapevine on Aug. 30, Gayle Hall was described as "a pillar of the Grapevine community" with the post going on to say her community pride will be missed by the community at large.
“She was a force of nature,” Chapman said.