"These sons of Williamsburg have spent a lifetime serving their hometown," said President Taylor Reveley. "William & Mary and its community are a far better place for their selfless service. We are delighted to be able to honor them."
The annual Prentis Award is given to those people whose civic involvement benefits the community and the College. The award is named in honor of the Williamsburg family whose 18th-century shop on Duke of Gloucester Street was a hub of colonial life. Members of the Prentis family have been friends of the College and the community since 1720, when the store was first established in Williamsburg.
The Hall family has played an important role at William & Mary and in the Williamsburg community for more than a century. The brothers' great grandfather, John Lesslie Hall Sr., was one of the "seven wise men" who helped revitalize the College after its 1880's closure. A professor of English at the College from 1888 to 1928, he was a scholar of Anglo-Saxon and a translator of Beowulf into modern English. His four children all went to William & Mary, where they were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. One of those children, Channing M. Hall, Sr. (the brothers' grandfather), was on the Williamsburg City Council for more than 30 years and served as the city's mayor from 1934 to 1948. His son, Channing M. Hall, Jr., attended William & Mary for a time both before and after World War II, and graduated from the Law School in 1954. Like his father, he served on the Williamsburg City Council from 1956 to 1968. His sister, Dr. Susan Hall Godson, also attended William & Mary and later helped author a book about its history for the College's tercentennial celebration.
"Four successive generations of Halls have been actively involved with college and community affairs since the 1800's," said Channing. "Although we have done little to deserve this award compared to them, we are indeed pleased and flattered to receive this honor on behalf of all the Halls."
Channing went to high school at Walsingham Academy and received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University. In 1985, he received his law degree from William & Mary, and, in 1986, he earned his master of law and taxation degree from the school. In 1987, Channing began working for the Senate of Virginia in the office of the clerk. The next year, he began serving as a clerk for the Honorable Laurence J. Whalen in the United States Tax Court. In 1990, Channing went into law for himself before founding and serving as a partner in the firm Hale & Hall, P.L.L.C. In 2000, he returned to his own practice.
Like so many Halls before him, Channing was a member of the Williamsburg City Council between 1994 and 2002, and, between 1998 and 2002, he served as the Vice-Mayor of the City of Williamsburg. He has served on or chaired numerous boards and committees, including those for Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg Landing, the Bruton Parish Church Foundation, Doctor's Hospital of Williamsburg, Williamsburg Music Association (Williamsburg Synphonia), Kiwanis Club, Avalon, Historic Triangle Community Service Center, the Williamsburg YMCA and Middleburg Bank. Channing also served on the William & Mary Law School Association's board of directors, taking on the role of president between 1996 and 1997. As chairman of the association's minority outreach program, he founded the Thurgood Marshall Award and the Oliver Hill Scholarship. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Distinguished Service Award from William & Mary's Society of the Alumni.
Lesslie, too, has long been a stalwart of the Williamsburg community. Also a graduate of Walsingham Academy and Washington and Lee University, he began working as a realtor for The Wood Agency, Inc., in 1988. In 2002, he joined Hornsby Real Estate Company, where he continues to work today.
Since 1981, Lesslie has served as a member of the Williamsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. He has taken on numerous roles in the organization, including historian and vice president. He has served as the department’s president for 21 years and has been a member of its board of directors since 1987. Lesslie has also served various roles in groups such as the Williamsburg Jaycees, Middleburg Bank, the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, the United Way of Greater Williamsburg, Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors and numerous other organizations. When Channing ran for election and re-election on the city council, Lesslie worked as the treasurer and campaign manager for his brother’s successful campaigns.
Lesslie has earned multiple awards for his work in the community, including the Williamsburg Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1994, the Korczowski-Fuller Award for Exceptional Civic Service presented by the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, the Kiwanis International Hixon Award, the Virginia Jaycees' Outstanding Young Virginian Award, and the Williamsburg Volunteer Fire Department's award for 25 years of service. Now, he and his brother can add the Prentis Award to the list of their accomplishments.
"Channing and I are surprised and humbled to be given the prestigious Prentis Award - both the College and our City are quite dear to us," he said.