Former US Rep. Katie Hall of Indiana dies at 73

Feb 22, 2012, 1:42 AM

Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Former Indiana U.S. Rep. Katie Hall, a key sponsor of the 1983 legislation that established a national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died. She was 73.

Hall’s husband, John Henry Hall, said she died Monday at Methodist Hospitals’ Northlake campus in Gary from an undisclosed illness.

Although she was just a freshman congresswoman at the time, Hall was credited with playing a key role in getting the King holiday approved after it stalled in the House the previous 14 years. She sought the chairmanship of a Post Office and Civil Service subcommittee so she could get the bill moving and held hearings, bringing in King’s widow, Coretta, singer Stevie Wonder, Sen. Edward Kennedy and House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill.

“Sometimes when you get to the goal line it’s good to go to someone fresh and new to take it over. She brought a freshness of approach, a spirit of reconciliation to what had sometimes been a bitter battle,” Rep. William H. Gray III, a Philadelphia Democrat, said at the time.

John Henry Hall said his wife’s work on that bill was the accomplishment of which she was most proud.

“She was there with President Reagan as well as Coretta Scott King and others when the president signed it. It was one of the highlights of her career, tremendously so,” he said.

Katie Hall, who was Indiana’s first black member in the U.S. House, was a school teacher and got involved in politics in 1962 shortly after moving to the city. In 1963 she worked on the campaign for Richard Hatcher when he first ran for City Council and helped with his campaign again four years later when ran for mayor of Gary, becoming one of the first black mayors of big U.S. city.

“That energized her and got her into politics,” James Lane, a history professor at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.

She served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1974-76 and in the Indiana Senate from 1976-82. When U.S. Rep. Adam Benjamin of northwestern Indiana’s 1st District died suddenly in 1982, two months before the election, Hatcher was influential in persuading Democratic Party officials to nominate Hall to replace him, Lane said. She was picked over Benjamin’s widow, Patricia, during a meeting at Hatcher’s home. Hall won election to the remainder of Benjamin’s term and a full two-year term on the same day in November.

Hall was defeated in the 1984 Democratic primary by Peter Visclosky, who has held the seat since. Visclosky accused her of being unresponsive to voters outside of Gary.

“She serves one constituent, the mayor of Gary,” Visclosky said at the time.

Visclosky defeated her again two years later. She then served as Gary’s city clerk from 1988 until 2003, when she pleaded guilty to mail fraud as part of a deal with federal prosecutors on 20 felony public corruption charges. Hall and others had been accused of making workers in the city clerk’s office raise money for Hall’s re-election campaigns in order to keep their jobs.

Hall was sentenced to house arrest and probation, but her daughter, Junifer Hall, served a 16-month prison term.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson expressed her condolences to Hall’s family in a statement released Tuesday.

“She was a great friend of our family, a phenomenal educator, author of the King holiday bill and a political trailblazer we will never forget,” Freeman-Wilson said.

Hall’s husband said his wife should be remembered as a humanitarian who rose from humble beginnings growing up on her grandfather’s cotton farm in Mound Bayou, Miss.

“She left a great legacy of love and concern for city, state and country as well as humanity, and her great work rising from the cotton fields of Mississippi to serve in the Congress of the United States of America,” he said.

A public viewing for Hall will be held 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Van Buren Baptist Church in Gary. A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.


Associated Press writer Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wi...

Associated Press

Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to three federal gun charges filed after his plea deal collapsed

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three federal firearms charges filed after his earlier deal imploded.

34 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General has charged a police officer in the shooting death of a Black man

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez on Tuesday announced that a police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man during a confrontation at a gas station. Las Cruces Police Officer Brad Lunsford was booked on the single charge and released on Tuesday […]

55 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence attends an Associated Press ...

Associated Press

Mike Pence says he is ‘deeply disappointed’ in vote to oust Kevin McCarthy as House speaker

WASHINGTON (AP) — GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence, the former vice president, chastised a group of hard-right Republicans who ousted Kevin McCarthy from his role as House speaker Tuesday, saying that “chaos is never America’s friend.” Pence was onstage at a national security and foreign policy forum at Washington’s Georgetown University co-hosted by The Associated […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Detroit-area mayor indicted on bribery charge alleging he took $50,000 to facilitate property sale

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit mayor was indicted Tuesday on a federal bribery charge for allegedly demanding $50,000 in bribes to facilitate the sale of a city property to an outside party. Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly allegedly accepted the bribes from September 2022 through this past April, the indictment said. The bribes began at […]

2 hours ago

File - Unsold 2023 Aviator sports-utility vehicles sit in a long row at a Lincoln dealership on Jun...

Associated Press

US automakers’ sales rose sharply over the summer, despite high prices and interest rates

DETROIT (AP) — Automakers posted big increases in new vehicle sales during the summer despite high prices, rising interest rates and even a limited strike against Detroit companies. Industry sales rose 16.3% from July through September as consumer demand stayed strong despite an average new vehicle loan rate of 7.4% and an average vehicle price […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

3 residents injured after major fire strikes Detroit-area apartment complex for seniors

SOUTHGATE, Mich. (AP) — A major fire spread through an apartment complex for older residents in suburban Detroit on Tuesday, injuring three residents, severely damaging the roof and forcing crews to fight the flames with aerial hoses. TV stations posted video of fire ripping through the roof at the three-story, cross-shaped complex known as the […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.

Former US Rep. Katie Hall of Indiana dies at 73