Hobby Industry Loses Two Pioneers
Bobbye Hall and Bruce Walthers, two well-known names in the model railroad industry, passed away this weekend.
Hall, 97, former owner of Hall’s Hobby House and Hallmark Models in Dallas, Texas, died on January 27.
Hall and her husband, Buddy, took a former ice cream parlor north of downtown Dallas and converted it into her hobby shop, which she operated for 55 years. She was the first woman to successfully work with Japanese model railroad manufacturers, and in 1967, started Hallmark Models, which offered an exclusive line of brass locomotives and cars of southwestern U.S. railroads imported from Japan and Korea. In 1996, Hall was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Association’s Hall of Fame, and she received the National Model Railroad Association’s Pioneers of Model Railroading award in 1997. Hall’s autobiography, Tracks from Texas to Tokyo, was published in 2006.
Hall attended a book signing at CentraMod’s own Temple Model Train Show on September 16, 2006. She donated a signed copy to the club library.
Walthers, 87, Chairman of the Board and former President of Wm. K. Walthers, Inc., in Milwaukee, Wis., died on January 28.
In 1958, Walthers became president of the model railroad manufacturing firm his father, William K. (Bill), started 26 years earlier. Under Bruce’s leadership, Walthers became the largest distributor of model railroad products in the world. During his 60-year career, Bruce was a board member and president of both the Model Railroad Industry Association and the Hobby Industry Association (HIA). The HIAA awarded Bruce its highest honors, the Meritorious Award of Honor and Lifetime Membership in recognition of his years of service and contributions to the hobby. Bruce transferred the family business to his son, Philip, in 1984, but remained active in the company as Chairman of the Board.