A fierce champion for seniors and home health workers, Hadley Hall created the first multipurpose senior center to provide meals and social services.
Our community is mourning the loss of Hadley Hall, founder of On Lok 30th Street Senior Center and a leading advocate for underserved seniors, home health workers, and the LGBTQ community. Mr. Hall passed away on August 10 following a brief illness at the age of 87. Mr. Hall, a social worker, created San Francisco Home Health Services (SFHHS), a nonprofit organization, where he founded the groundbreaking 30th Street Senior Center in 1979, in response to the unmet needs of older adults in the community. Working closely with the center’s seniors and volunteers, Mr. Hall created home-delivered and congregate meal, adult day health, and home care programs, all while advocating for living wages and better working conditions for home health workers.
Through his advocacy of senior healthcare and social services, Mr. Hall worked closely with our founder Marie-Louise Ansak to grow the possibilities of improving elder care. 30th Street Senior Center became a part of On Lok’s family of senior services in 1995. “Though he was always shy to admit it, the 30th Street Senior Center simply wouldn’t exist in its current form without Hadley. It was always a labor of love for him and he was their advocate,” said Grace Li, CEO of On Lok. “Thanks to 30th Street Senior Center’s social activities and nutrition and wellness programs, millions of dollars have been saved on healthcare spending, with fewer emergency room visits, hospital stays and medications. Hadley truly was one of a kind and we’re going to miss him very much.”
One of Mr. Hall’s enduring legacies was the creation of a nutrition program that dignified meals and seniors, while addressing senior hunger and social isolation. “The first grant proposal San Francisco Home Health submitted to the Office on Aging [now Department of Disability and Aging services] included hot community meals for the dining room, a small home-delivered meal route, and a senior-run activities program. Hadley knew that a hot, nutritious meal was critical to help seniors achieve any degree of health and well-being and if it could be served on real china plates with fresh cut flowers on the table, even better,” said Director of On Lok WELL Senior programming Valorie Villela, who was hired by Mr. Hall as the center’s first nutritionist and later served as the center’s director for over three decades.
Today, On Lok Mission Nutrition is the second largest home-delivered meals provider in San Francisco, serving an average of 20,000 takeout and home-delivered meals a month since the beginning of the pandemic out of its home base at On Lok 30th Street Senior Center. Mr. Hall was also a towering and beloved figure in the LGBTQ senior community in San Francisco. During the AIDS crisis, he created Coming Home Hospice, the first residential AIDS hospice in the nation, providing care and support for people with AIDS and/or other terminal illnesses. He also contributed his experience and determination to help LGBTQ seniors age independently at home instead of often-unwelcoming nursing homes, helping to lay the foundation for Openhouse, the San Francisco nonprofit that provides much-needed housing and services for LGBTQ seniors, of which he was a longtime board member.
Through his work for seniors and the LGBTQ community, Mr. Hall became a staunch supporter of home health workers. Linda Edelstein started out as an employee of Mr. Hall’s at SFHHS and later served as manager of Coming Home Hospice for a decade. She remembers how Mr. Hall advocated for and obtained the first In-Home Support Services contract with the city, working closely with then mayor Art Agnos. “He really pushed for benefits for the workers. He fought and got legislation for better pay, benefits, and job security,” said Edelstein. “He had great respect for all people and did what he could to elevate their dignity. In the 1970s, he identified enthusiastic home-makers who wanted to go back to school and supported their undergraduate and then graduate studies, so they could get their master’s degree in social work.”
Mr. Hall served as CEO for SFHHS and Hospice of San Francisco until his retirement in 1986, but he never stopped leading advocacy for seniors, home health workers, and the LGBTQ community. His legacy includes major contributions to address ageism and homophobia in city services, especially those expressly designed for seniors. Until his passing, he was an active adviser and volunteer with both On Lok and Openhouse. He was instrumental in bringing the dream of a LGBTQ+ senior community to life at the Openhouse campus on Laguna Street, where Openhouse and On Lok are set to launch a program of senior services for LGBTQ seniors this year. In 2014, Mr. Hall received the Norma Satten Community Service Award.
A native of North Dakota, at the age of nine Mr. Hall moved with his family to Washington, where he grew up and attended undergraduate college. He relocated to San Francisco in 1960 and earned a Master of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley. He is survived by his husband of 60 years, Warde Laidman, who was the executive director of Family Service Agency and also a social worker.
On Lok and Openhouse will observe a celebration of Mr. Hall’s life in 2021 once it is safe to gather socially.