An hour before the funeral chapel opened Saturday for Adele Hall’s first visitation, at least 100 mourners were already waiting.
Hall, 81, whose philanthropy touched many across the Kansas City area, died Jan. 26 on the big island of Hawaii.
Those waiting at Stine & McClure Chapel to pay their respects came from all walks of life. All levels of income.
High-powered CEOs stood alongside minimum-wage workers, politicians next to teachers, Hallmark employees next to neighbors.
Many brought with them a story or two of how Hall had touched their lives, opened their eyes to a possibility, even changed a stereotype of what they thought they knew for sure.
Adele Coryell Hall wouldn’t have noticed whether people arrived in shiny luxury cars or rusty old ones, according to those who knew her. She saw beyond income and education and hairstyles, looking straight into the hearts of her fellow human beings.
Even in death she inspired those waiting, with words she once penned now printed on the visitation program.
“It’s the sense that you can do anything,” she wrote. “Overcome any obstacle. That all you need to do is bring people together from all walks of life
“We are all brothers and sisters. Kindness knows no barriers whatsoever. It’s out there for all to give, all to share, to catch and to pass along.”
A stranger to the city wouldn’t have known that those waiting by the flower-draped casket to greet the crowd were the family that founded Hallmark Cards, investing in Kansas City’s future and convincing others to dream with them to build hospitals, art museums, performing halls and nonprofits.
Both tears and smiles came easily as the line wound past photographs of Adele Hall’s wedding to husband Don some 60 years ago. Another photo showed the couple as proud grandparents standing with their brood, children and grandchildren, each brimming with promise.
“She never put herself on a pedestal,” said retired Sen. Kit Bond, with his wife, Linda, waiting in line. “She was always in there working hard, rolling up her sleeves. She was so full of life, it’s hard to believe she’s gone.”
Near the Bonds were two other men. One was Paul Alexander, a doorman for the last 40 years at the Westin Crown Center hotel, nicknamed “tall Paul” because he stands 6-foot-6 and is a former Harlem Globetrotter.
His friend Glenn McCubbin is a bellhop at the hotel. They came to Hall’s visitation because she showed them both respect, Alexander said.
“Ms. Hall always talked with me and asked how I was doing,” he said. “We’re going to miss her. She was real nice.”
McCubbin nodded. “A lot of people at her level wouldn’t take time to talk to people like us, the service employees. But she always would,” he said.
A little farther down the line was Lou Smith and his wife, Sharon. Smith is the former president of the Kansas City division of AlliedSignal, now Honeywell. He’s also the retired president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
His face grew tender as he found the words to describe Hall.
“She was just one of the most caring, kind, inspirational people you could be around,” he said. “She always gave credit to everyone around her, instead of herself. She was an inspiration
“She’s an example for all of us to follow.
“I think she’d like to know that.”