The Heritage Foundation mourns the passing of Hall W. Thompson of Birmingham, Alabama: a patriot, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist. A stroke took him at age 87 while he spoke to a gathering of politically active Alabamans about the importance of getting America back to its philosophical roots. While we celebrate his entire life, it is this part of it—this commitment to our founding principles—that sustained so many at Heritage and throughout the country.
Hall belongs to the unsung heroes of the free-market movement. Many today know about the case for ending federal death taxes—how this pernicious tax undermines the American dream by destroying small businesses and slowing the growth of our economy. However, few know that Hall was one of a small handful of activists who created the modern movement to end this tax and, indeed, to move the federal government toward a comprehensive overhaul of its entire tax code. If there has been any progress made on creating a tax system that supports the promise of American life, Hall’s family can look proudly on his major role in this effort.
He will be remembered for many things—a veteran of World War II, a highly successful entrepreneur, a major force in national and local charities. Let us not forget, however, this other part of his legacy: Hall Thompson knew that public policy battles needed to be fought and won. He was a soldier in that contest, and his strength and wisdom will be sorely missed.