Florida Hall of Famer J. “Papa” Hall passed

By Adam Silverstein
September 23, 2010

Former Florida Gators running back, track & field athlete and University of Florida Hall of Fame member J. “Papa” Hall passed away on Sept. 15. He was 79.

Hall, who along with Rick Casares and Buford Long was a member of perhaps the most powerful group of running backs in school history, was the Gators’ leading rusher in 1952 with 671 yards. He was “recruited by every major Southern college” (according to the Tallahassee Democrat), but chose to play in Gainesville, FL, because it was close to home.

The winner of two national collegiate high jump championships (1951, 1953) during his time at Florida, Hall also set a national indoor high jump record (6’11”) while in school. He helped lead the Gators to their first-ever bowl game victory, a 14-13 win over Tulsa in the 1953 Gator Bowl. Described by author Buddy Martin as “swift with long legs and a big stride,” Hall rushed 17 times for a team-high 94 yards in that game and caught two passes for a team-high 60 yards, accounting for almost half (154 yards) of Florida’s total offensive output (334 yards) that day.

He was picked up by the New York Giants after college but instead chose to attend law school and pursue a career as a judge.

Elected to the Leon County Circuit Court in 1980, Hall presided there for 18 years, serving 10 more years as a replacement judge before retiring. Fair skinned, he was diagnosed with melanoma a few months ago and skin cancer spread throughout his body eventually leading to his demise.

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Hall family.

3 Comments

  1. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Same here.

  2. OldflyerG8r says:

    I was a high school senior in Jacksonville during the ’52 season. UF gave HS football players free (or very cheap tickets), and some team mates and I would get to Gainesville any way we could for UF games. J “Pappa” Hall was truly a delight to watch. I had end zone tickets for that Gator Bowl. I have a vivid memory of his high stepping style, as he came through a hole.

    Rest in peace, Old Gator.

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