I covered the story of Rev. Shelvin Hall’s retirement as Friendship Baptist Church pastor in November 2006.

I was awed by both his sense of humor and his commitment to continue to participate in social causes on the West Side even at the point in his life where he had already given so much.

“I guess I should go out and find work now because they don’t pay much in retirement,” he said.

That work, according to Rev. Hall, was to open a trade school near Laramie and Lake Street. He envisioned a West Side trade school that would allow young men and women to obtain job training.

“It would keep these kids involved and away from the pitfalls of the streets,” he told me.

Hall certainly practiced what he preached. He worked for years on construction projects at Friendship Baptist.

Although he’d received countless accolades in the last half century, he was always very modest.

Following his retirement, he told me he was surprised that he was being covered by the Chicago Sun-Times and felt he was only doing the work that came naturally to him.

“You have to be concerned with the lives of others,” Hall said. “I have simply done what God has asked of me.”

Hall treated everyone equally, whether you wore an Armani suit or tattered jeans at a church clothing drive.

I appreciated the genuine gratitude shown by Rev. Hall following his departure from the church.

However, I mostly admire his education plan and ideas for the West Side even though his duties to the community had long been fulfilled.

He inspired all of those who attended his services and lived in the community to improve their own neighborhoods.

For that, we are truly honored.

-Robert Felton