Honey Grove, Texas
The private non-profit foundation now known as the Hall-Voyer Foundation was granted its charter April 15, 1940. It was chartered as the David Graham Hall Trust and David Graham Hall Foundation. The trust supported the Foundation. In 1984 the name was changed to the Hall-Voyer Foundation to honor Richard F. Voyer, who was responsible for guiding and building the Foundation since its organization.
There are not very many Foundations as old as the Hall-Voyer Foundation. It has grown and changed keeping up with the times and the needs of the people it serves. From its inception in Dallas, then its move to Monkstown and finally to Honey Grove, it has touched the lives of many thousands of people in various ways.
The “Dallas Morning News” dated May 27, 1940 had an article about the establishment of the Foundation. Dr. David Graham Hall, who was 82 years old at that time, turned over $300,000 worth of real estate to set up the new Foundation. This was from a man who never made over $3,000 a year. The Foundation’s purpose was for treatment and prevention of communicable diseases, primarily venereal disease, and to promote ways to accomplish this.
David Graham Hall was born in 1858 in New Hampshire. Dr. Hall was an obscure physician, so publicity shy that even other Dallas doctors did not know him. The article stated in 1890 he used typhoid shots in Dallas for the first time and threatened with hanging. He was widely known as the “Squirt Gun Doctor” or “Shooting Doctor” because of the large hypodermic syringes he used. From that time he lived literally hidden from public notice in the middle of downtown Dallas. He was the first Harvard Medical School graduate to practice medicine in Dallas.
The other part to the success of the Foundation was Richard F. Voyer. He was a self-made man who ran away from a foster home in Massachusetts when he was 13 years old. He made his way to Texas and later became an attorney. He set up the Texas Social Hygiene Association in Austin in 1939 for the purpose of prevention and control of venereal disease, and to lobby for better public health in Texas. He heard about Dr. Hall’s desire to set up a Foundation, and went to him with a proposal for the David Graham Hall Foundation. Mr. Voyer was President and Executive Director of the Foundation until his death in 1989.
The first trustees of the David Graham Hall Trust were Karl Hoblitzelle, B. F. McClain, Carr Collins, and Homer R. Mitchell. For students of Dallas history, these men all made their mark in making that history.
Foundation offices and lab in Highland Park.
In 1973 the articles of incorporation were amended. Its purpose was changed to the establishment and operation of libraries, museums, auditoriums, civic centers, educational facilities, human relations programs and to promote or support communital health and social welfare programs for the people of Texas. In 1984 the Trust was dissolved and the Foundation took over the assets. Through the years the property in Dallas that was given to start the Foundation was sold and the funds invested in stocks and bonds. The Foundation operates from the income from these investments.
The Hall-Voyer Foundation is an operating foundation. Operating foundations must operate their own programs, instead of giving the funds to other non-profits for their programs. An operating foundation must spend eighty-five percent of their income each year for programs that they control.
The Foundation started with little actual revenue, just the rents from the properties owned. Most of the properties were small “shotgun” type houses in the Hallsville section of Dallas. At that time the streets were dirt. One of the houses still survives today and may be seen in Old City Park in Dallas.
Dr. Hall’s “shotgun” rent houses in Dallas.
The early projects of the Foundation focused on blood tests for venereal diseases, mainly syphilis, and primarily for those above indigent levels of income, as 95% of all venereal disease control at that time was aimed at the indigent. The foundation set up a modern lab in Highland Park and sponsored free blood tests through people’s physicians. Tests were available to anyone. They also gave free blood tests and exams through the lab.
Richard Voyer holding employee blood test certificate.
A free clinic was set up in the Hall Street area. They offered free blood tests, urinalysis and other procedures. Blood typing was also done. In 1941, over 11,000 people were typed. Portable units were sent to industries. The Foundation served the armed forces during World War II, and received many letters of commendation. A working relationship was set up with Temple Lumber Company and a clinic was put in place at Pineland, Texas. Mr. Voyer and the Foundation directors lobbied the legislature for better public health laws, and they were responsible for getting the law passed requiring blood tests before marriage. The advent of penicillin eradicated most of the venereal disease at that time and forced the Foundation to change its focus.
Some areas in which the Foundation became interested were the promotion of fluoridation of public drinking water supplies, the Dallas Health Museum, and operation of a Health Information Clearinghouse.
In 1960, the Foundation moved to Monkstown, Texas. Mr. Voyer was looking for a low income county that did not have a public health service and Fannin County fit that profile. While at Monkstown the Foundation set up the Monkstown Community Center, a ball field, youth programs, movies, socials, trips to the Texas State Fair for the community on a chartered bus, and rabies vaccination clinics. Lectures on public health were given by noted lecturers.
Monkstown Headquarters of the Foundation, with donated baseball supplies.
The Fannin County Commissioners court commissioned the Foundation to conduct a public health survey. Dr. Ira Hiscock, Professor of Public Health at Yale University headed the survey. This survey led to the construction of the Fannin County Hospital, which opened in 1972.
Honey Grove City officials and Chamber of Commerce leaders had taken notice of what the Foundation was doing in the county and approached Mr. Voyer with the idea of the Foundation coming to Honey Grove. They wanted to halt the deterioration of the downtown square and try to bring in more businesses. In 1961 the Foundation headquarters were moved to Honey Grove. Mr. Voyer purchased and restored a beautiful two story home on East Main Street and he and his wife moved there.
Some of the Foundation accomplishments in Honey Grove have been the renovation of many downtown buildings, notably what is now known as the Honey Grove I.S.D. Hall-Voyer Learning Center (Civic Center), the library, the Hall-Voyer Exhibits Hall, and the downtown park. Mr. Voyer personally purchased, renovated, and sold many houses and buildings.
The Civic Center dedication was held on July 4, 1963, with Congressman Ray Roberts as principal speaker. The Center was composed of a modern banquet room and meeting rooms. In 1984, when the school system needed room for the kindergarten, the Foundation deeded the Civic Center and meeting rooms to the Honey Grove Independent School District. Upon completion of the new Honey Grove Campus, the School District returned ownership of the buildings to the Foundation.
Bertha Voyer started the library in 1962 in the former Evans Grocery store building, and it moved across the street in 1963 into its present location. Mrs. Voyer was known as the “Library Lady,” to many patrons and was loved for her sweet and gentle nature. The library still periodically celebrates her March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, birthday with special events. The library was originally named the Honey Grove Public Library, but the name was changed to the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library after her death in 1985.
Bertha Voyer in the earliest days of the library.
In 1985, the library became a member of the Texas State Library and Archives. The library is an accreditated library with the state adding many valuable databases and other projects. This was made possible by the City of Honey Grove agreeing to contribute $2,500 annually to the library budget. That amount has never increased. Most citizens don’t realize that most small towns have to totally fund their library.
A Friends of the Library organization was started in 1985 and has been invaluable to the support and promotion of the library programs and activities. They assist with exhibits, programming, public relations, and fund raising.
The library is a focal point of the downtown area. Meeting rooms are availabe to non-profit and Civic Organizations free of charge and to the public for a nominal charge.
The Foundation endowed the Paris Junior College with $250,000 for health career scholarships and related programs. Many registered nurses and licensed vocation nurses have been assisted and are still being assisted in receiving their education through those scholarships.
The Memorial Park on the south side of the downtown square in Honey Grove was conceived and put into place by Mr. Voyer. It replaced a vacant, overgrown lot where a building had burned. Markers in the park commemorate the service given to our country by veterans. The park was donated to the City of Honey Grove in 2016.
In 1992, the Foundation added the historic 1883 St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to its properties. Seeing the building in a sad state of repair, the Foundation approached the Episcopal Diocese in Dallas and requested that they donate the building to the Foundation. They did so and the Foundation immediately began restoration of the building. It was leveled, painted, roofed, re-wired, and had central heating and air conditioning added. The beautiful stained glass windows were completely taken out and restored, as was the pump organ. The floors were returned to their original polished wood and the tin ceiling in the Sunday School room was replaced with a reproduction tin. The original ceiling was not restorable due to water damage. The church is available for rental for weddings. Other special events have been held there, such as Easter services and Christmas concerts. A beautiful gazebo was also built on the property.
The Foundation provided oversight for the 2020 Vision program. This program brought together the citizens of the town to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and set achievable goals for the community. A project to rehabilitate the downtown and bring it back to a more historic look is currently underway. Funds were raised to place historic type light fixtures, landscaping and benches around the square. Businesses are being urged to restore their downtown building fronts back to their original look.
Following the death of Richard F. Voyer in 1989, the board elected his daughter, Evelyn F. Wise, as President and Chairman of the Board. She died March 4, 2002 and her daughter Cheryl Maxam served as President and Board Chairman until her retirment in 2017. Gary Fernandes was elected Chairman of the Board and Greg Beavers (great-grandson of the Voyers) was elected President. Other current board members are Barbara Caffee, William Channing, Beverly Felts and Cheryl Maxam of Honey Grove, Rhond Grubbs of Allens Point and Dallas, and Abraham Goldfarb of Dallas. Mary Anne Thurman served as the Executive Vice President from the time of Mr. Voyer’s death to December of 2007.
As the Hall-Voyer Foundation moves into the next century, it will stand ready to devise programs to benefit Honey Grove and the surrounding areas in the state of Texas.