When Hal Holmes Haralson was a student at Hardin-Simmons University, he served as senior class president, worked with Baptist Student Ministries, and graduated with honors. In his life, he was to become a preacher, lawyer, and published writer.
Haralson died Nov. 27, 2012, in Austin, Texas, where he had made his home for over 40 years.
Haralson served Hardin-Simmons throughout his life with determined dedication, serving on the Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1995, the Board of Development from 1997 to 2011, as a board member for the Alumni Association, and he was a founding member of the Board of Young Associates at the university.
Born in Abilene April 12, 1935, he was raised on a farm north of Lorraine in Mitchell County. Graduating Lorraine High school in 1953, Haralson came to Hardin-Simmons University where he majored in history, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957.
While a student at HSU, he met Judy Christian of Littlefield, Texas. They were married on December 27, 1956. During two years of service in the United States Army, Hal was the first pastor of West Side Baptist Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He went on to serve as pastor of churches in Breckenridge and Abilene.
In 1968, Haralson entered law school at the University of Texas in Austin. Graduating in 1971, he practiced law in the capitol city for more than 30 years.
In 1997, Haralson was honored for his many years of dedication to Hardin-Simmons with the John J. Keeter Service Award, the university’s highest alumni honor. HSU president, Dr. Lanny Hall, says, "Hal was an exceptional man who was one of HSU's most enthusiastic ambassadors. He overcame many challenges in life and gave much of himself to help others and promote his alma mater."
As a often featured author in the periodical Christian Ethics Today, Haralson wrote many stories of living the Christian life. These were compiled and published in his two collections, Gentle Mercies and The Lost Saddle. In his writings, Haralson inspired others to see God in their everyday life.
Haralson struggled with bipolar disorder for many years, turning his own experience into a ministry for others living with the disorder. For his selfless efforts, he received multiple awards, including the National Mental Health Association’s highest honor, the Clifford Beers Award. He was also honored by the Dole Foundation for his work to break down the stigma associated with mental illness.
Haralson was preceded in death by his father, Delma Haralson; mother, Adah Barber Haralson; brother, Ken Haralson; and daughter, Jill Haralson.
He is survived by his wife, Judy; son, Brad and wife, Rachel; son, David and wife, Annette; brother, Dale and wife, Betty; and grandchildren, Lauren, Hayden, Holden, Matthew, Weston, and Maximo.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. today, November 30, 2012, at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas. Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, December 1, 2012, at Lakeland Hills Memorial Park in Burnet, TX.
A memorial service will follow at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity in Austin. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be given to the T. B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics, c/o Hardin-Simmons University, PO Box 16100, Abilene, TX 79698.