Obituary: Robert D. Hale, Former ABA President and Associate Executive Director

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Robert David Hale, a former ABA president and associate executive director, died on Monday, October 21, at age 85.

Hale began his bookselling career in 1956 at Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, Massachusetts. After serving as a newspaper editor in New York and Connecticut, Hale returned to bookselling and was tasked with creating a bookstore at Connecticut College in 1961. In 1969, he became general manager of Hathaway House Bookshop, which was part of Wellesley College. Hale developed the Hathaway House Author series, a strong program that brought many authors to the college and contributed to the bookstore’s success.

Hale joined the Board of Directors of American Booksellers Association in 1974 and served as president from 1976 to 1978. In 1978, he left Hathaway House to become the associate executive director of ABA.

Hale had a great impact on the bookselling world and often acted as a mentor to both authors and booksellers. For many years, he served as the dean of the ABA Booksellers Schools. He was also the editor of the fourth edition of ABA’s A Manual on Bookselling.

“Robert Hale had a long and distinguished life in bookselling, both here at ABA and in his own store, and he will be missed by many in the industry,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “He was a bookman of the highest order.”

During his tenure at ABA, Hale worked with then-Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin to establish the Center for the Book on whose executive committee he served for six years. In this capacity, he traveled to Nigeria, New Zealand, and Fiji to spread the Center for the Book’s message. He also was chosen to stock the personal libraries at the White House and Camp David for President Carter and his family.

Robert Hale is survived by his brother Donald, his wife Lydia, his children, Rob, Beth, Chris, and David, and nine grandchildren.

A private burial will be held on Saturday, October 26, 2013.  A celebration of Robert Hale’s life will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013, at 2:00 p.m., at the First Parish Church in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Fund for Nature.