Mary Lou Traugh Hall passed away peacefully due to complications of COVID-19 on Feb. 21, 2021, at the Hanover Hospital in Hanover, Pennsylvania, surrounded by her family.
Mary Lou was born on July 24, 1935, in Berwick, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Carl E. Traugh and Geneva (Schott) Traugh. She was a 1953 graduate of Berwick High School and worked summers at the Wise Potato Chip factory to earn money to attend college after the death of her father. She met her husband, Claude B. Hall, at Bob Jones University when he was working on his doctorate but found himself in the wrong classroom which included Mary Lou. Claude waited after class to speak to the black-haired beauty in the red blouse because he knew she was the one for him. Mary Lou graduated with a B.S. in Speech from Bob Jones University in 1957 and she and Claude married later that year on Aug. 12, 1957, at the Bower Memorial Evangelical Church in Berwick.
After their marriage, Mary Lou embarked upon a 30-year teaching career and taught at several different schools, depending upon where Claude would be called to pastor a new church. She taught classes in English, speech and journalism in Greer, South Carolina, Middleburg, Pennsylvania, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Martinsburg, West Virginia, and lastly at Central High School in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, where she formed lasting friendships with many of her colleagues there. She retired from teaching in 2000.
Mary Lou completed graduate work courses at Hood College in Maryland, Shepherd College in West Virginia, and Juniata College and St. Francis College in Pennsylvania. She belonged to the NEA, sang with the Altoona Lyric Choraleers, the Harmonettes in Harrisburg, Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley Choral Society. She loved music, playing piano, reading biographies, working with her puppets Cinnamon and friends, and drama. At Bob Jones, she performed in Shakespearian plays and gave violin recitals.
Mary Lou felt God’s calling when she was a small child. On Oct. 26, 1980, she was ordained to the ministry, the first ordained woman minister in the Church of the Brethren Middle District of Pennsylvania. While she continued to work full time as an educator, she served as an interim pastor at the Everett Church of the Brethren, Dunnings Creek Church of the Brethren, Fairview Church of the Brethren and Snake Spring/Cherry Lane Church of the Brethren. She was called to the Lower Claar Church of the Brethren, where she served as their pastor for 17 years. Even after her so-called “retirement,” Mary Lou returned as an interim pastor at Snake Spring/Cherry Lane and then she and Claude served as co-interim pastors at Dunnings Creek.
Mary Lou also served in various capacities for the Church of the Brethren Middle District of Pennsylvania. This included serving as a District Moderator, a member of the Witness Commission, Ministry Commission, and District Interview Committee for Licensing and Ordination. She and Claude both mentored many individuals desirous of becoming a minister.
At the denominational level, Mary Lou served on the Standing Committee for Annual Conference and the Nominating Committee. She was an Instructor at the Center for Bible Studies (Mid-Atlantic District), Instructor for Preaching (Middle Pennsylvania District) and chaired the Small Church Committee. She also served on the Morrison’s Cove Home Board of Trustees in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.
After living in parsonages all their married life, Mary Lou and Claude finally bought their first home in 1990 in Bedford, Pennsylvania after Claude was called to pastor the Bedford Church of the Brethren. They loved their home in Bedford dearly but ultimately moved to Cross Keys Brethren Village in New Oxford, Pennsylvania in July of 2018.
Mary Lou is survived by her husband, Claude, of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and children: Tamara Hogan (Joseph) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Jonathan Hall (Cassandra) of Stephenson, Virginia; and Melanie Wallace (Sean) of Sidney, Maine. She is also survived by four grandchildren: Erin Stouffer, Ashley Yingling, Michael Wallace and William Wallace along with many beloved nieces and nephews. Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents, Carl Traugh and Geneva Traugh Baughman; her stepfather, Reverend Warren Baughman; her sister, Romayne Donato; and brother, Neale Traugh.
Funeral services will be private. Burial at Lower Claar Church of the Brethren Cemetery. Arrangements by the Timothy A. Berkebile Funeral Home in Bedford. The family will hold a Celebration of Life for Mary Lou when we can all be together safely again. Our online guestbook is available at www.berkebilefuneralhome.com.