In 1972, zoology graduate student Tom Hall spent a summer at Stone Lab, studying everything from ornithology to fish ecology while spending nights in Cooke Castle, then the men’s dormitory. Today, emergency medicine physician Dr. Thomas Hall, who just retired from a position as medical director at an insurance company, is working with Ohio Sea Grant and the Friends of Stone Lab (FOSL) to raise funds for renovations that could turn that same Cooke Castle into a unique meeting destination.
Hall has been a Stone Lab donor since FOSL was started and participates in volunteer opportunities as often as possible. With his recent retirement, he wanted to become more involved in supporting the lab through volunteer work and was able to take on the role of committee chair for FOSL’s Cooke Castle Committee.
“I’m one of the primordial fossils,” Hall joked – FOSL members often run the letters together into “fossil” instead of pronouncing each one separately – “which means I’ve been a donor since the early 80s, and I thought someday I’d like to be more involved.” Previous conversations about the castle renovations prompted Hall to offer his involvement after he retired from his job, and both Ohio Sea Grant and FOSL were happy to accept.
“I’m one of the primordial fossils, which means I’ve been a donor since the early 80s, and I thought someday I’d like to be more involved.”
Hall credits Stone Lab with many of the things that shaped his life after college, including acceptance to medical school, where he met his wife Beth.
“The university had that ‘But For Ohio State’ campaign,” Hall said. “For me, it was ‘but for Stone Lab.’ I may not have been accepted into medical school if I hadn’t done well at Stone Lab and gotten references that helped me get in. That’s been a large part of my success, and it helped me meet my wife. So for me it’s ‘but for Stone Lab, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.’”
While there are still a number of obstacles to overcome before Cooke Castle can welcome donors, board members and legislators for small conferences – renovating a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places is never easy – Hall is confident that the project will move forward as long as the funds are raised.
“It’s very costly – the number is probably in the $5-6 million range right now. Building anything on an island is hard and not cheap, so we’re trying to balance all that to refine the project and the business plan for it, and then push forward,” Hall said. “I’m one of the few people who like asking people for money, so I’d like to help build on what’s already a good development program.