Longtime Westchester resident J. Tillman Hall, a former physical education professor at USC who also served as grand marshal of the university’s commencement exercises for more than 25 years, died Wednesday, June 6th. He was 91.
Hall was born in January 1916 in Faxon, Tennessee, as one of six children born to Sophia Kirk and Travis Munroe Hall.
He graduated from Big Sandy High School and Freed Hardeman Junior College, both in Tennessee, and George Pepperdine University.
After serving in the Navy in World War II, he received his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California.
Hall later became a professor at USC and was chairman of the Physical Education Department from 1966 to 1992. In semi-retirement, he was executive director of the Emeriti Center and Emeriti College at USC.
Hall was active throughout his life, his family said. He played semi-pro baseball and earned a basketball scholarship to Pepperdine University. He was also a Golden Glove boxer, an avid fly-fisherman and a golfer.
In 1950, he founded the dance troupe, The Lariats. Under his direction, the troupe performed in all 50 states, 13 countries, and on numerous TV shows and theater venues.
Hall was an international lecturer and he wrote nine books and edited 29 others.
He was appointed to the California Commission on Aging by then-Governor Ronald Reagan and served as USC’s delegate to White House Conferences on both physical fitness and aging.
He served as grand marshal of USC’s commencement exercises from 1955 to 1982, and in 1983, the university dedicated the 100th Commencement Program to him.
Hall is survived by his wife of 66 years, Louise, his daughters Nancy Sweeny and her husband George of Culver City, and Jody Hall Esser and her husband Jack of Los Angeles; grandchildren Michelle Jones and her husband Wesley, Brian Fisher and his wife Jamie, JoAnne Sweeny and Katherine Sweeny; great-grandchildren Darby Fisher, Carly Fisher, Jack Fisher, Ethan Jones, Meghan Jones and Zachary Jones; six nieces, two nephews and their families.
A memorial service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30th, at the Westwood United Methodist Church, 10497 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
The family says donations in Hall’s honor may be made to the American Heart Association or the Alzheimer’s Association.