Dede Hall, former Fort Wayne city councilwoman and part of the local family of restaurateurs, died Monday, her family said. She was 62.
Her son Ben Hall, manager of the Gas House restaurant, said she was diagnosed with colon cancer in spring 2009 and died after a three-year fight with the disease. Ben Hall said the family did not want to discuss his mother's death publicly, a reminder of Dede Hall's laid-back approach to elected office.
"No one's interested in making a big deal of it publicly," Ben Hall said. "That wasn't Mom's style."
Dede Hall, a political novice at the time, was elected to City Council as a Republican in 1995 and served one term. She lost her 1999 re-election bid to former Democratic Councilman Tim Pape.
Council legislative assistant Molly McCray, who worked under Hall for two years, said Hall kept a low profile politically because she was more interested in serving taxpayers than making public appearances.
"She looked out for her constituents. She knew what she wanted and generally didn't back down if it was a big enough issue," McCray said. "There are some politicians who like to show up everywhere so they can be seen. That just wasn't her, to be seen in her elected capacity."
While on council, Hall clashed with at-large Republican Councilman John Crawford over smoking restrictions, which he supported and she opposed, and helped lead opposition to a southeast-side landfill for hazardous waste that ended up closing in 1998.
Even though they butted heads in the polarizing debate over smoking restrictions, Crawford said Hall was committed to working together and never made their disagreements personal.
"We disagreed on the smoking issue, but we disagreed in an agreeable way," he said.
Among her proudest achievements, Hall also listed her work on an ordinance establishing standards for conduct between landlords and tenants.
After news of Hall's death spread Tuesday, she drew praise not only from fellow Republicans but also from Democrats who knew her, including Mayor Tom Henry, who served with her on council.
"As a fellow council member, I remember Dede Hall's meticulous care on fiscal matters and the great amount of detail she gave to every topic that came before council," Henry said in a statement. "Her unwavering passion for our city was always apparent."
Council members honored Hall with a moment of silence before Tuesday's meeting.
Hall was married to Sam Hall, son of Don Hall, who founded the chain of local restaurants bearing his own name. They include Don Hall's Gas House and Don Hall's drive-in restaurant.