Herbert “Herb” Leighton Hale, born September 21, 1940 in Pikeville, Tennessee, made his transition to his heavenly home on June 3, 2020 at his Caseyville, Illinois home following a prolonged illness. He was 79 years old.
Herb became a follower of Jesus much later in life than most Christians. After experiencing the Holy Spirit’s profound conviction of separation from God, Herb repented his sin and believed upon Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal salvation. Herb departed this world knowing that his name is written in the Book of Life and awaiting resurrection in the Day of the Lord to eternal life and fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The fourth of five children, Herb was raised on his parents’ backwoods farm in the Sampson Community of Bledsoe County, Tennessee and there he spent his mischievous, happy youth in the company of a brother, three sisters, nearby cousins, and many other neighbors. After graduating from Bledsoe County High School in 1959, Herb married and moved to Pikeville where he owned and operated Herbie’s Drive-In, a Main Street diner now defunct. Herb’s two sons were born while he lived in Pikeville and he bought a house on Pratt Street in which to raise them. Always a gregarious person, Herb enjoyed operating his ‘small town’ diner for several years, but a financial downturn forced him to sell. He moved his family to Rossville, Georgia where he worked as a long-haul trucker for several years, until financial and other hardships resulted in a divorce.
After leaving Rossville, Herb continued working as a truck driver until he found employment in Illinois as a chartered tour bus driver, a career he dearly loved. Herb greatly enjoyed encountering the scenic vistas and historic destinations on countless trips across the USA and Canada. And, he absolutely reveled in interacting with people from all walks of life as he drove them on often weeks-long chartered tours. He retired from Gillespie, Illinois based Cavallo Tour Bus Company after a 30-year career as a tour bus driver. While working in Illinois, Herb met his life partner, Sharron Wrigley, a native of Caseyville, Illinois who worked for Peabody Coal and helped operate a local diner. Herb and Sharron married on July 8, 1974. They lived in her childhood home in Caseyville until his death over 45 years later.
After retiring, Herb immersed himself in church and community activities. To beautify his Caseyville community, he helped organize and operate a local garden club, including arranging the use of a surplus greenhouse at the local high school. Proceeds from the club’s annual Memorial Day sale of flowering plants, hanging baskets and other greenery grown in the greenhouse by Herb and other club members provided funds for many community beautification projects. For many years, Herb helped build and landscape stone flower beds at local parks and municipal buildings. In addition to garden club projects, Herb loved to participate in fund raising projects sponsored by the all-volunteer Caseyville Fire Department, especially as a volunteer at their annual Mouse House helping young children use tickets to purchase gifts for their family members from a well-stocked selection purchased with money donated by their parents. Herb also enjoyed volunteering at other department projects including a Halloween Party with hayrides and summertime activities for community children.
Herb was an active member of the Sterling Baptist Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois where he faithfully attended worship services each Sunday and Wednesday as well as services for visiting evangelist and special singings. Herb participated in many of the special ministries of the church, including monthly meetings of Men for the Master, senior lunches, the Bread Packing Ministry, Vacation Bible School, visiting the sick and giving transportation as needed. For several years Herb oversaw the preparation of Wednesday night meals and helped prepare the church dining room for special occasions. He also helped decorate for Christmas and prepare for the church’s Easter Egg hunt. During Vacation Bible School, Herb especially loved building and operating a kiddy train comprising of a riding mower attached to a train of wheeled wooden boxes. With the young children seated in the boxes, Herb would drive the train around the churchyard much to children’s delight. He loved the children’s laughter and happiness.
Herb is survived by his wife of 45 years, Sharron (Wrigley) Hale; son Jeff Lee Hale; grandsons Jeffrey Tyler Hale and Herbert “Bubba” Leighton Hale III; granddaughter Amanda Nicole Hale; sisters Dorothy Ann (Hale) Bayless and Nina Carol (Hale) Nale; brother-in-law John Arnold Nale; nieces Melissa “Lisa” Bayless and Deanna Dodson; and nephews Howard Hink Bayless, Wade (Sandy) Dodson, Mike (Leslie) Nale, Mark Arnold Nale, and John David (Jill) Nale.
Herb was preceded in death by his parents Herman Walter Hale and Ethel Marie (Panter) Hale; son Herbert Leighton Hale, Jr.; brother Robert Walter Hale and Robert’s wife Amy Sue (Dodson) Hale; sister Dana Evelyn (Hale) Dodson and Dana’s husband Robert Ernest Dodson, Jr.; nephew Herman Taylor Bayless and Herman’s wife Marjorie Gentile Bayless. He will be missed by a host of relatives, friends and neighbors in both Bledsoe County and Caseyville.
A limited visitation was held on June 5, at Leesman Funeral Home in Dupe, Illinois followed by a brief family remembrance and prayer led by Pastor Ed Ingram. There will be no internment as Herb wished to be cremated. But, a memorial service at Sterling Baptist Church will be held after current restrictions on church services are lifted.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to offset the financial burden of Herb’s final arrangements would be much appreciated and can be made to the family directly by mailing donations to Sharron Hale, 113 W. Washington Street, Caseyville, IL 62332.
Leesman Funeral Home, 326 S. Main Street, Dupo, IL 62239 was entrusted with arrangements.