Almost as quietly as his unassuming personality, an Ocean City legend whose fingerprints are all over the resort’s landscape and the seafloor off its coast passed away last week, but his contributions certainly aren’t going unnoticed.
Affable and humble, Captain Gregory Akers Hall, who died at the age of 69 on Oct. 25, leaves in his wake a legacy of great accomplishments for several decades, among them the creation of the Ocean City Reef Foundation for which he served as president through its nascent period.
Hall, a U.S. Army veteran who completed a tour of duty in Vietnam, moved to Ocean City in 1971 and early on and ran a string of successful businesses with his brother and former Ocean City Councilman Jim, including a beach stand operation, go-kart tracks and mini-golf. He acquired his pilot’s license and co-owned a small plane. Hall’s first love was diving and he was instrumental early on in planting seeds for the Ocean City Reef Foundation and the flourishing artificial reef system ever-growing off the resort’s coast today.
He started Maryland Coast Towing, a dive charter and salvage business, and under his watchful eye, tons of surplus materiel were reefed off the Ocean City coast under the old Maryland Reef Program. When the state disbanded the program over funding issues, Hall picked up the mantle and co-founded the Ocean City Reef Foundation in 1997 and served as president until 2011.
Current Ocean City Reef Foundation President Monty Hawkins recalled his former colleague and friend this week.
“Never one to brag and always humble, Captain Greg did all he could to make the Maryland coast a diving destination and in doing so, he left a legacy of improved marine habitat. There’s a lot more coral off our coast now then when he began his efforts,” Hawkins said.
In addition to Hall’s efforts as the reef foundation co-founder, he became the eyes of ears for many things going on off the Ocean City coast over the years. Several years back, he merged his Maryland Coast Towing dive charter and salvage business with TowBoat US and as such, Hall was often called during accidents and other disasters and near-disasters offshore including countless boat fires and capsizings and the like.
Over the years, he became a close friend of trusted source for The Dispatch for all matters offshore, a relationship nurtured and cherished until his untimely passing. One favorite story comes to mind and illustrates Hall’s understanding of the gravity of a situation along with his unbending sense of humor. When a small plane crashed into the ocean in June 2013 claiming the lives of two police officers, Hall and his crew were given the unenviable chore of recovering the wreckage and returning it to the commercial harbor in West Ocean City for further investigation.
I asked Hall when the recovered plane would be returned to the harbor and he confidentially told me he would let me know when that was happening.
After a day or so with no contact from him, he called and said, “Hi honey, I picked up the package and I’ll be home for dinner around 6:30.” Somewhat confused, I said okay and hung up, but quickly figured out Hall was on his way back to the harbor and was not at liberty to speak because he was surrounded by federal officials who might frown on passing information on to the media.
That is just one example of Hall’s reach in the community and his importance as the eyes and ears out on the water. While his death passed quietly last week, his contributions will never go unnoticed and he will be sorely missed.