Hal Sessions

Hal R. Sessions, Jr.

Surrounded by his family, Chaplain Hal. R. Sessions, Jr. passed away on November 19, 2013 to be with his wife, Pauline Peace Sessions.

He was born in Lake Village in 1921 and was the first son to Hal Rucks Sessions and Mattie Bunker Sessions.

Sessions is survived by children, Dr. Hal R. Sessions, III and wife Marilyn of Portland, Oregon, Betty Sessions of Fayetteville, Jamie Murphy and husband Larry of Ovilla, Texas; 12 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Also preceding him in death was his son, Paul Meek Sessions, who died in 2009 in an automobile accident, leaving his wife Lynn Sessions of Germantown, Tenn.

He was a retired US Navy chaplain, who had spent the last years of his life as a volunteer and piano player for his church and his friends at the Red Oak Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.

He also served as the chaplain of the USS Wasp CV-7 Stinger Club for over 30 years, memorializing his fellow “swimaways” who survived the sinking of their ship off the coast of Guadalcanal on September 15, 1942.

He grew up with three brothers, Floyd Bunker, William Nelson, and Louis Walker Sessions.

After graduating from Lakeside High School, he entered the Navy in 1940, “to see the world” serving through World War II on several ships. He was able to survive the sinking of the USS Wasp (CV-7) off the coast of Guadalcanal, swam away, and was plucked from the sea by the USS Landsdown.

Following that, he survived the war on the USS Chandeleur where he served as the chaplain’s assistant.

He attended Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. followed by a master’s degree in divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1953.

He rejoined the Navy for the remainder of a career, serving as the chaplain on multiple ships including the USS Antietam (CV 36) and the USS Topeka (CLG 8) as well as serving at Annapolis, Md, Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois and with the Fifth and Seventh Marines in Camp Pendleton, Calif. and retiring at Naval Air Station Memphis, Tenn.

Following Navy retirement, he served as hospital chaplain at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis and led several small Methodist churches east of Memphis, Tenn.

He raised four children, traveled the world with his wife of 61 years, went on 14 cruises, and circled the globe. He accompanied his wife as they visited all 50 states of the United States and she ran a 10K race in all 50. He documented those travels in his book, Running in all 50 States After 55.

Pauline and Hal served their churches and their communities as tireless volunteers during their 40-plus years of retirement.

Pauline knitted for children around the world and Hal volunteered several days a week to play piano at nursing homes for the residents  while they ate lunch.

Over the last 10 years he was appreciated by thousands of older folks for the more than 2,200 hours as he played the patriotic and religious hymns that have been the backbone of his life. He never met a piano he didn’t love.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the ‘Pauline Peace Sessions and Paul Meek Sessions Scholarship Fund’ at Hendrix College, in Conway.

Visitation will be November 22 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. followed by the funeral at Lakeside Methodist Church in Lake Village at 1 p.m. on November 23.

Funeral arrangements are by Bishop Funeral Home of Lake Village.