- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The man who made sure the paper towel dispensers were filled, bills printed and top research staff hired at the North Carolina legislature for more than 30 years has retired.

Legislative Services Director George Hall stepped down Nov. 1, wrapping up a half-century of service in state government.

House speakers and Senate leaders from both parties came and went, but Hall worked quietly behind the scenes since the late 1970s to ensure the legislative complex in downtown Raleigh ran properly and largely without controversy.

“George has been the manager of the whole place for as long as I could remember,” said former House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, who served in the legislature from 1981 through 2012. “He was just an excellent, excellent contributor to the legislative enterprise.”

In his usual low-key manner, Hall sent an Oct. 17 memo about his plans, stepping aside at the end of extended sick leave due to recent health issues.

“It’s time to do something else,” Hall, 75, said in an interview this week. “I had a good run and I enjoyed the work up there.”

Hall, a Raleigh native, worked with the state vocational rehabilitation agency for 14 years before joining the General Assembly as administrative officer in 1978. In late 1983, he was promoted to his most recent position as overseer of all legislative divisions.

An early accomplishment involved the construction of the Legislative Office Building, which provided extra space for legislators and committees across the street from the Legislative Building, where floor sessions are held. Hackney said Hall had great skill mediating between the speaker and Senate leader to find agreement on the legislature’s biggest operational decisions, including hiring top personnel.

Hall didn’t always have the final say. He wasn’t a big fan of how the Senate renovated its chambers in 2006 that concealed the simple and clean style emphasized by architect Edward Durrell Stone at the Legislative Building, built in 1963 and frequented by North Carolina schoolchildren. Hall wasn’t involved in scaled-back renovations in the House chamber that started this month.

“It is my hope that the State Legislative Building will be preserved in the way (Stone) envisioned,” Hall wrote in his farewell memo to legislators and staff.

Hall, married with three grown children and three grandchildren, said he’s proud of the professionalism of the non-partisan staff that works for both Democrats and Republicans and considers General Assembly employees like family.

The retirement marks a second major staff departure this year. Gerry Cohen, the bill drafting division director for 31 years, retired as the legislature’s special counsel Aug. 1.

Hall’s “unparalleled institutional knowledge will be sorely missed at the General Assembly,” said current Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

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