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Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.
1899 – 1978
Joseph B. Hall is credited with guiding the Kroger Company from corner grocery stores to supermarkets. When he became president in 1946, the company had 2600 stores and annual sales of $567 million. Upon his retirement 18 years later, it had 1430 stores and sales had jumped to $2.3 billion annually.
Born in a poor section of South Chicago July 13, 1899, Hall worked at a variety of jobs throughout his school years, mowing lawns and carrying ashes while in grammar school and working in a neighborhood real estate and insurance office to get through high school.
A high school graduate at 16, Hall entered the University of Chicago with a Strong Educational Foundation Loan Scholarship and worked at a variety of jobs, including one as a steel plant worker. He was a two-year letterman with the university track team and won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) 440 hurdles championship one year after his graduation.
Hall was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1921 and worked in real estate in Chicago until 1930. He joined The Kroger Company in 1931 as manager of real estate. By 1943, Hall was the company treasurer and a year later he was elected executive vice-president. He was elected president and chief executive officer in March, 1946. Sixteen Years later he was elected chairman of the board and retained his duties as the company’s chief executive officer until his retirement in 1964.
Known for his commitment to Cincinnati, Hall was a major participant in a variety of civic activities. He had opportunities to go to New York for greater gain several times in his life, but felt life in Cincinnati was more gratifying.
From 1964 until 1970, Hall served as chairman of the Cincinnati Redevelopment Corporation (CRC), the organization which rebuilt Fountain Square.
Hall also served on the boards of many organizations and corporations. He was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for 18 years, six of them as chairman. He was a trustee of the Christ Hospital and vice president and trustee of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts. He was a member of the executive board of the Dan Beard Council of Boy Scouts of America and a former chairman and executive committee member of the Community Chest. He was chairman emeritus of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Hall was also past chairman and past trustee of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and past chairman and president of the Citizen’s Development Committee. He was also chairman of the Overall Economic Development Program in Cincinnati.
He belonged to nearly a dozen civic clubs, was an honorary member of the Business Council and a member of the Cincinnati Citizens Police Association.
Hall died June 5, 1978 at 78.
Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization