Written 2003, revised April
Hal Doby was born in Atlanta Georgia in 1958 at the tail-end of the “Baby Boom” generation duirng the idyllic post war age when everyone liked Ike and positively loved Lucy. He was raised in the Candler-Glenwood area of southern DeKalb County, right between the city limits of Atlanta and Decatur. He currently resides in the community of Magnet at the Rockdale and Newton county line. He lives there with his partner, Mark Carrier.
As a young child, Hal's father would occasionally treat Hal by taking him for a ride into the downtown district of Atlanta to go see a movie at one of the city's grand movie theaters. From memory, Hal got to experience the grandeur of the Roxy, Capitol, Loew's Grand, and the Fox Theatre. Later in his life, the connection to the Fox Theater would increase when he visited the Fox routinely on elementary school field trips to see speakers talking to school children about far-off places and their journeys,
After the Fox was saved from demolition, Hal found himself going on a tour of the Fox that was hosted by volunteers in 1976. The tour ended in the Egyptian Ballroom, where Bruce Sutka was talking about the restoration efforts of that room. At the end of his talk, he made a plea for volunteers to help work on the building. A few weeks later, Hal was knocking on the doorsteps, responding to Bruce's plea. Thus began Hal's 17-year “hands-on” relationship with the Fox.
After Mr. Sutka left the Fox, individual volunteer restoration projects came to a halt. As it turned out, Hal had a cousin named Kathy that was working as a volunteer usher at the Fox. She invited Hal to join her and soon Hal found himself volunteering as an usher during events. Hal's general knowledge of the auditorium and the Fox helped him to advance within the event staff. In a short period of time, Hal was doing more than basic usher work and eventually was made a part of the paid event staff.
In 1981, the Atlanta Women's Chamber of Commerce, Fine Arts Division, approached the management of the Fox Theatre with their interest to form a new group that could function to benefit the Fox. General Manager Ed Niess and Jo Ann White conceived the idea of Friends of the Fox Theatre, a non-profit volunteer restoration group that would work with the Fox's Restoration Director, Rick Flinn. The group would meet on a monthly basis to perform actual restoration and clerical work under Mr. Flinn's supervision.
Because Hal preferred restoration work, he turned his attentions to FOF and stopped working events. By the end of the first year, Hal was asked to become the group's Restoration Manager and Vice-President of FOF. This was a position he held for two years. In the fourth year of the group's existence, FOF became an independent group. Hal was elected the first non-AWCoC President. He served in this capacity from 1984 until the end of 1990.
By that time, the Fox's income revenue had grown to a point where most of the projects that FOF had been doing were being done by the Fox's paid restoration staff. FOF turned its efforts towards sorting out and cataloging the Fox's internal archives, which up to that time, had never been properly sorted or cataloged. This work eventually took FOF to the Atlanta Public Library where it spent considerable time searching the archives of the Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution for newspaper and magazine articles that talked about the Fox as it was being conceived, erected, and operated over the years. In 1992, Rick Flinn resigned as the Fox's Restoration Director. His successor, Mary Katherine Martin decided there was no further use for Friends of the Fox. FOF ended its affiliations with the Fox Theater in early 1993.
By that time, Friends of the Fox, who once had a membership of over 200 people, was now down to about 20 people. These were core die-hards of the group and they had developed many lifelong and deep friendships between them. The group decided to remain together as a loose body. Since 1993, they still meet on a quarterly basis for a weekend brunch. In 2013, the membership of Friends of the Fox is now down to 9 members that are in regular attendance.
Hal became re-engaged with the Fox Theatre in 2003 during preparations for its 75th Anniversary. Hal participated and contributed to a documentary that Georgia Public Broadcasting was preparing for the occassion. Later, he joined the Atlanta Preservation Center for a year and acted as a volunteer Fox Theatre tour guide for the APC. In 2012, Hal was contacfed by Janice McDonald who was preparing a book on the Fox. Hal gave her his insights on the Fox as well as made introductions between Janice and other people involved with the Fox.
Hal established a personal web site in 1995. Part of that site was a “tribute” section to the Atlanta Fox Theatre. Hal kept the original web site up for several years. It was based on all the of history of the Fox that Hal had been told over the years. After his experience with the GPB Fox documentary, Hal discovered that a good amount of what was being discussed as the history of the Atlanta Fox Theatre was in fact more myth and legend than actual fact. This inspired Hal to revise and expand his Fox tribute site so it would present the most factual account of the Fox as possible. This has turned out to be an on-going process with something new being learned on a regular basis. What you see now is the result of that research. This is currently the fourth major revision of Hal's Atlanta Fox Theatre Tribute site.
Hal has been asked over the years by several groups to give presentations on the history of the Fox Theatre. Usually, I am glad to do that when a request is made. I do this freely and expect no fee for my services, however depending on the travel distance to give the presentation, I may ask for a small donation fee to cover my travel expenses. If you are interested in this service, please email at this address.
Professionally, Hal originally pursued a career in Radio-Television Electronics and business administration. At the beginning of the 1980s, the field of computing blossomed when International Business Machines introduced its Personal Computer, more commonly known as the PC. At the that time, Hal was a production manager for a local small business, Action Awards. Hal became responsible for the company's technology needs. In time, Hal was named the company's Vice-President of Information Technology about the same time Action Awards was named one of the top 500 growing small businesses in the United States by Inc. Magazine. Hal is currently in his 30th year at Action Awards.
When not at work or at the Fox, Hal has had a deep love of automobiles and motorcycles. During the 1980s and 1990s, Hal was deeply involved in the British Motor Car community. Hal participated in both local, regional, and national sports car clubs and events. He became the Newsletter Editor for the Georgia Triumph Association, and later its Director. Hal served two years as a staff member of the Vintage Triumph Register. Hal was also the VTR's chairman for the 1992 VTR National Convention that was held in Savannah, Georgia. He founded the Atlanta Rider's Group, a local motorcycle club and was its President for 3 years. Later, he became the Newsletter Editor for the Atlanta Chapter of the Peachtree Chapter, BMW Car Club of America. Hal has received several awards and accolades for his work and service to the car enthusiast community