Please pay respects to my friend who died thursday

Matt Hall died quietly, Thursday in his apartment. Matt was a friend of mine, but he would not want anyone to be upset over his passing. He was in his mid eighties.

I doubt anyone in here knew Matt, but he was well known by a lot of Illinois dealers and he loved motorcycles.

I don't know Matt's timeline perfectly, but it seems to me that he was riding motorcycles before many of our parents were born. In his tons of things he saved, I saw an awesome picture of him sitting on his Indian motorcycle as a very young man. His sidecar was piled high with his newspaper route's daily burden.

I managed to nab one of his pictures from the piles, which I had framed and dislpayed in our waiting area a few months back. The picture is from 1963, and dipicts Matt giving SIU parachute club members a ride back from the drop point on the back of (I think) a CZ motorcycle. He would pick them up one at a time from the landing area (his front 10 acres) and return them to civilization (their van in his driveway).

Matt told me that he rode a motorcycle in WW2. I don't know exactly what he did, but he told me about one of his missions. I don't know where he was stationed, but his duty was to deliver a message to a general named Patton. Matt said when he got to his destination and delivered his message, General Patton offered him a grape soda.

Matt started his business life selling newspapers, but soon he decided he wanted to be closer to the thing he loved most. Thus, Speede Service was born. His first motorcycle line was Indian. He carried the V-twins and was proud to sell them. He told me when Indian's in line twin came out he was so pleased with smoothness of the engine, and the overall quality of the machine.

Who really knows what happened to the Indian company, but Matt picked up other lines to deal with the adversity of the changing business world. He carried CZ, BMW, Jawa, I think Moto-Guzzi, and probably a couple others that I don't know about, but in 1962 he decided to take a chance on a little known Japanese company called Yamaha.

Anti-Japanese sentiment was hign in the country, and I'm sure Matt thought twice about supporting the nation he had sworn to defeat just 20 years earlier. As any great business man would though, he put his personal feelings aside and took a chance on what he thought was a quality product.

Well companies come and companies go, and the seventies were a turbulent time. CZ and Jawa enjoyed great success in the late sixties/early seventies. So did Matt Hall. "That was a great time to sell motorcycles" Matt told me once. Yamaha and the all the others were full steam ahead building and competeing with their offerings. Matt told me at one time there were something like 20 different lines of bikes to choose from in an area where probably less than ten reside today. Jawa, Hodaka, Penton, Husky, Enfield, BSA, if they had 2 wheels Matt liked them. Just like Indian though, for one reason or another, most of the lines Matt carried in the early seventies had pulled the rug out from under him by the late seventies.

By the time the eighties rolled around, Matt had only one brand left that he could really count on.

Yamaha kept Speede Service alive in a time when interest rates made it pretty hard to sell luxury items. Matt's dedication to the sport and quality customer service kept the Speede Service fires burning bright also.

My first encounter with Matt Hall was in 1990. I was fixing bikes for people to try to supplement my SIU college expenses, and I was working on a TX 750 in particular. When I walked up to Matt at the counter and asked to order a new clutch basket, he impressed me by having one in stock. With out question I could sense his pride with my satisfaction.

My college carrer progressed, and so did my mechanical abilities, and the next meaningful encounter was me asking Matt for a job. He didn't need any techs at the time, so he would have to wait a few years until he did need me.

The next meaningful time we met, Matt showed his true love for the sport, by turning his life's work over to 2 punk kids. 2 punk kids who were offering less money than other people who had tried to buy his business. 2 punk kids who desperately needed a kind old man to give them a chance. 2 punk kids that he knew loved the sport as much as he did. 2 punk kids that are proud and thankful to say they knew Matt Hall.

Matt was one of the key players that helped me get my start, and for that I will always remember him fondly. He truly is a little piece of motorcycle history, and the industry was lucky to have him.

Matt's wife left him last year after 50+ years of marriage. Matt was a religious man, and he was confident that our sorrow for Cathrine was wasted, as she was bound for a new wonderful adventure. Matt was ready to join her when the powers that be were ready to take him, but not a minute sooner. He lived in a small apartment by himself, and was fully capable of taking care of himself-I hope I can be so well when I'm in my eighties. He had confided to me what a great life he felt that he experienced, and he was very realistic about a man's alloted time on this earth.

Matt would not want anyone to be sad about his passing, as he felt he would be bound for a new adventure with his beloved Cathrine.

Too bad Matt, I simply can't contain my sorrw. I miss you already. You were a friend and mentor to me.

Yamaben,

I share your respect for senior riders. I put as much priority as I can for riding with the guys in their 60's. We all have limited time to live and ride and I enjoy their company and knowledge.

My dad was in Patton's Army. Patton had units other than the the 82nd under his command. Other WWII guys can help me if they have info on this. Dad enlisted in 1941 / 1942 time frame and was a motorpool Sgt. The 82nd spent time base jumping all over the US from Texas to North Carolina. They were first shipped to North Africa for "Operation Torch" and invaded Sicily. I have some photos he took during the war. Most of his family was in Sicily and he visited them. After Sicily they were pulled back to England to refit and then shipped out to France after D-day. Matt may have told you about some of this. A lot of Vets did not ever seem to know where they were or even what larger units they were connected with. Most of the Vets knew Patton. Matt is part of generation that saw living in a house with no power (in some cases no toilet) to the personal computer.

Godspeed to the generation that provide for and saw so much change.

Ben,

You captured his spirit and character very well... I am sure you are sad at his passing, even though you say he would not want you to be. It is always sad when someone leaves this world, step out of our lives, never to be with us physically... His spirit is the one that drives most of us, the love of freedom, the love of bikes, and from what you describe, he was a well balanced person who saw a lot did a lot, yet managed to be happy with his lot.

He led an authentic life, and managed to survive it's ups and down. You were lucky to know him, and you got to see the true spirit of a wonderful human being, and your friendship was able to transcend generations - we too often dismiss other generations - old people are slow and forget stuff, young people are noisy and up to trouble all the time... Once we get to know people, we realise that the human condition runs through each of us like a thread - and with motorbikes and through this site I have been connected to a wonderful young man in Garrett, and a great older character in Matt.

We should all respect him for that, I do reading your post. Thanks for taking the time to share his effect on your life with us.

I will be thinking of him and you over the next week or so, obviously there will be arrangements to be made and ceremonies to be attended.

I too hope to have along and happy life, and retain my sparkle and independence until a ripe old age - like Matt Hall.

May he Rest In Peace, and be reunited with his other love, Cathrine.

Regards,

David

Yamaben,

I feel for you during your time of grieving. I have known only a couple of men the way you describe Matt.He seems to have made an impression on you, so his spirit will live on thru you and your actions. Praise the lord for the good men we meet in our lives. Take comfort in knowing he is smiling upon you and your actions of calling him your friend. Take care and remember all the good times and what he taught you.You and he will be in my prayers

Thank You Mr. Matt Hall.

From your friends' discription, The whole U.S.A. needs to pay there respects to you as a Christian, Man, Husband, Soldier, Friend, Buisness Owner and Bike Rider.

It's people like you Matt that have lived thourgh both the Hell of War & the Peace of Home that this country to soon forgets. From the way Ben describes you, You Sir are a true American Hero. Unsung and Unassuming in your walk through this life here on earth. Happy only to accomplish what the "Master" has set before you.

I, as a Vet from the end of the Vietnam era, Stand and Salute You.

I, as a fellow believer Neel and Pray for you.

Ben:

Thank You for allowing us here on TT the privilege to give tribute to a man such as Matt Hall.

Yamaben,

Thank you for telling us this important story of a man whose life was full and touched so many others. I pray for his eternal rest and for his friends like yourself to have strength in this time of loss. It is nice that you remember Mr Hall's personal light and the heart he had. He must have been a wonderful man to know and be around.

You spoke very eloquently of his love for motorcycles and the personal pride he took in his business. I feel like you are carrying on his life and the traditions he started. God bless Matt Hall and you also for caring enough to remember him to us here.

Respectfully,

Bill Barnard

Yamaben

Becouse of you Mr Hall now has a memorial you passed n.

Thats what it is all about.

Thank you Ben for sharing your freinds life with us

John

God bless you and Mr. Hall , I know he is smiling down on you right now. My deepest sympathies to you .

Ben,

I read your post and wiped many a tear as I moved throught the story. Your comments about Matt Hall captured the essence of what life is all about. I am sure Matt is proud of the memories you gave us and the legacy he lived.

I have said many a time that "our success in life is not measured by our W2 forms, or by how much money that can be earned, saved, or blown- but is measured by what our children and friends say about us when we are not around!"

Matt knew the "dream" and that is why he took a chance on "2 punk kids" - and Matt has long been proud of that decision!

My prayers are with you during this time. Try an celebrate his life, as I suspect that is what Matt would want.

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