Chris Hall Obituary – and what’s next…

Dear Readers,

Ilana here again (and from now on, unless there’s a guest post).

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments on the White to Black Post Script that I did about the last few weeks of Chris’s life. Your good wishes and thoughts about Chris mean a lot and will be saved. Thank you for bringing him forward in your own work and values. I miss him very much, and your comments, personal messages, and contributions have helped to ease the rawness of early grief.

I believe I have managed to send carpentry essays to everyone who purchased them recently – please email me at Chris’s email (or mine if you have it) if you think I missed one! Thank you for bearing with me. I am glad to be able to continue sharing Chris’s knowledge.

And lastly, before the obituary, that used Riken milling machine has made the trip from Japan and is in Western Massachusetts! I promise to share more about that adventure in the next couple of weeks. And I have been thinking about ways to organize the blog so it’s easier to find posts by topic...

As Chris would say, thank you for visiting The Carpentry Way.

With much gratitude,

Chris Hall Obituary

April 2015, Chris in front of the newly installed Tenshin-en gate that he built for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

On April 7, 2020, Chris Hall passed away peacefully at home with family surrounding him, after two years of cancer treatment and a short period of in-home hospice. 

Chris was born in England on April 8, 1965, and moved with his parents to Canada when he was two years old, spending most of his young life in British Columbia. Throughout his youth, he enjoyed working with his hands, learning about the natural world, reading, and engaging in athletic activities. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University, Chris lived in Japan for a number of years, where he continued his study of martial arts, taught English, and developed a passion for Japanese carpentry and architecture. 

After returning to Canada, Chris began working as a carpenter and continued to study the craft. He eventually got a job in California with East Wind, Inc. as a member of a team building a complex of structures using traditional Japanese carpentry techniques. While in California in 2003, he met Ilana Gerjuoy, whom he married in 2008. He spent the last 12 years of his life in Western Massachusetts with Ilana and founded his own company, Azuma Design Build. The couple welcomed their son, Ryden, in 2016. Chris loved being a father and wanted very much to live longer so he could be involved in Ryden’s life.

Chris’s other interests included disc golf, mountain biking, studying Japanese characters, dreaming and scheming about getting more woodworking machines, traveling, making (and eating!) sushi and pizza, spending time in nature, and sharing his knowledge of building and all things related to wood. He was an excellent Scrabble player and was able to complete even the most challenging New York Times crossword puzzles. Chris’s award-winning blog, The Carpentry Way, attracted readers from around the world and will be maintained by his wife for the foreseeable future.

Chris’s work is known for carefully thought out design, all wooden joinery, a high level of precision, and a focus on creating pieces that will last as long as the tree took to grow. In the last few years of his life, Chris built the new gate for the Japanese garden at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, did a variety of projects for the Boston Children’s Museum for their 100 year-old Japanese merchant’s house, renovated the East Asian Language Lab at Colgate University, and designed and built furniture for individual clients. 

Chris is survived by his mother June Redford and her partner Mitch Rose, his wife Ilana, his son Ryden (age 3 ½), his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Berri Gerjuoy and Marty Aligata, his mother-in-law Carol Gerjuoy, extended family, and friends, blog readers, and former students across the globe.

Chris had a green burial at Wildwood Cemetery in Amherst, Massachusetts. Due to the COVID-19 situation, a memorial service will be held once it is possible to hold public gatherings.

In 2020, just a couple of months before he died.

9 Replies to “Chris Hall Obituary – and what’s next…”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Ilana. Chris focused his blog on the work, rather than himself, which is one of things I’ve loved about it. Ironically, that also left me wondering about his background and influences. Thanks for filling in some of that.

    I’ll try but probably never do joinery like Chris. And I know I’ll never be able to finish a Sunday NYT crossword puzzle.

    Best regards to you and Ryden.

  2. My sentiments precisely, echoed by Gary. It is a pleasure to have met you, Ilana. Wish it were under better circumstances. Be kind to yourself over the next few months. This Christmas will be tough.

    1. Dear Ilana,

      Quite simply, Thank you!

      May I send my best wishes to you and son.

      Take care and all the very best.


  3. Ilana, I am sad that I never got to meet your husband and can only know about him from his/your words and pictures. May I suggest that you look into preserving the blog in a more permanent way. See for the Digital Preservation Handbook. It’s a knowledge base for digital preservation, peer-reviewed and freely accessible to all by the Digital Preservation Coalition.

  4. Ilana,
    thanks you for this.
    This post made me realise how much Chris shared of his life over the years with us readers. The only thing I didn’t know is that he was born in England.
    I had to take a deep breath when I read the sentence: Thank you for visiting the Carpentry Way.

    Best regards

  5. I never got to meet Chris, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by his expertise and curiosity after stumbling on this blog several years ago. I would reference it several times to uninterested friends and thought about signing up for one of his kanna tuning classes, but regretfully opted not to…I always thought there would be other opportunities. As I often did, when having trouble sleeping, I would pop over to the Carpentry Way to see if there was anything new or to be inspired, I’m saddened to hear of the news.

    I’m sure there’s still amusing musings and things to be learned on this blog I haven’t yet discovered. Thank you to Chris for sharing it with us and Ilana for continuing it.

    Sending my best,

  6. We are privileged to have known and worked with Chris in the Japanese Gardening Organization, Intl., especially in his time on the Board of Directors. He was always cheerful and constructive – an easy soul. Our thoughts are with you, Ilana.

    1. Thank you very much, Don. Thank you for the email as well, and please continue to use anything he wrote on Japanese gardening that you have.
      All my best,

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