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.