Ronnie Hale Sr. didn’t attend Texas A&M, but he was always an Aggie to the core. He put his four children through Texas A&M. Five of his grandchildren so far – with another on the way – are also Aggies.
Hundreds attended Hale’s funeral in March 2017, where Ronnie Hale Jr. recalled many memories and spoke of his father’s love for his wife of 58 years – Kay – and their children Ronnie Jr. ’82, Randy ’85, Richie ’88, and Kerri ’92.
To honor Ronnie Sr. after his death, his son and daughter-in-law Randall B. “Randy” and Tracy Hale are donating $250,000 toward renaming the Department of Accounting
for longtime department head Jim Benjamin.
The Benjamin campaign recently reached its goal of $10 million in commitments, and the Hale family wanted to help it come to fruition.
Ties to Accounting Department run deep
Benjamin has fond memories of Hale, recalling their meeting shortly after Benjamin started at Texas A&M. Hale was an officer in the U.S Army Reserves where Benjamin served his remaining military obligation.
“He was well thought of by everyone I knew throughout his career,” Benjamin said. “He was an avid golfer and we became very good friends over the years. I always considered him as one of the most honest, ethical, and caring people I have known.”
Hale came to Bryan to open the Bryan Boys Club, where he was director and earned the organization’s highest honor, the Boys & Girls Club of America’s Man & Youth Award. A promotion to Assistant Regional Director moved Hale and his growing young family to Dallas in 1965, but he always felt the pull back to the Bryan/College Station community.
He returned a year later for a position in the marketing department of a local bank – City National Bank. He stayed with that bank through several acquisitions, then retired 37 years later as vice chairman.
Two of Hale’s four children and three of his grandchildren received accounting degrees from Texas A&M, where the undergraduate and graduate programs rank in the Top Ten in the nation. As a testament to his longevity and maybe his perseverance, Benjamin was there to see them all graduate.
Hale’s sons Ronnie Jr. and Randy both started with Big 4 firms and have had very successful careers. Ronnie Jr. is a corporate chief financial officer, and Randy is the founder and managing director of Rock Hill Capital. Both of their spouses have accounting degrees and started their careers with Big 4 firms, as well, but neither are Aggies – a point of contention when the Aggies play either the LSU Tigers or the Texas Longhorns.
Lending a hand to young people
Hale was a friend to young people throughout his life. All the boys he mentored and guided at the Boys & Girls Club called him Coach. “One of his favorite things in the world was to hear from those boys, now men in their late 50s and mid-60s, who still call him Coach,” Randy shared.
When Hale was a banker, he wanted to make things easier on students and their parents, so he brought the first outdoor ATM machine to the Texas A&M campus. He was also the catalyst for the Aggie Bucks program, a meal debit card system for students that still exists today.
Mervin Peters, president at Wells Fargo, said Hale negotiated the installation of the first outdoor ATM machine on campus because, “it was the right thing to do for the students, their parents, and the bank.” He said Hale held other people’s feelings above his own. “He was a really thoughtful guy who related well to people and took pleasure in seeing other people happy.”
Community development as a calling
Bookman Peters, Mervin’s brother, was chairman of City National Bank when Hale arrived there in 1966. Bookman and Mervin Peters considered Hale as close as a brother, and both were in awe of the way he worked with people.
Bookman called Hale “a man of absolute integrity,” with sound judgment and a keen sense of fairness. He said he was a good role model for others. “He had a special talent for finding common ground among people who didn’t have that, and who sometimes had differing opinions,” Bookman said. “He did that in the bank as well as in the community. He believed you had to develop the community to have a good bank, and he stepped up to assume his role in that development.”
Bookman said Hale maintained high spirits throughout his battle with pancreatic cancer. “He took it upon himself to keep everyone else cheered up,” he said. “He loved people and people loved him. I miss him every day.”
Ronnie Hale Sr.’s standing rules for living well and getting along with people:
- Dudley Do-right Rule: Do what’s right
- Absent a serious wrong, don’t ever close the door on a friend
- When it comes to relationships, don’t draw lines in the sand
- If you’re way outside the norm, you’re probably in the wrong place
- You can say anything you hear me say