Rall M. Ayers was born in Mendon, Mercer County, Ohio on February 17, 1891 to David Ayers and Hannah Elizabeth Mitchell. His middle initial is not an abbreviation for a name. His mother wanted his middle name to be Mitchell, and his father wanted it to be Monroe. Since they couldn't decide, he ended up with only an initial for his middle name. Rall was the youngest of four children born to Hannah and David Ayers. There was the oldest child, Estelle, and a set of twins named Thomas and "Bess."
Rall grew up in Mendon. His father, David, died when Rall was only 5 years old. His mother was a teacher and rode horseback to school, but we don't know if it was before she married David or after he died.
Rall went to college at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Hardin County, Ohio. There he was known as "Duke." We believe it had something to do with boxing. He was studying to be a pharmacist.
During that period, he made plans with two other students, who were brothers. They decided that after getting their degrees, they would work together to buy a drugstore in which all three would work. They would then save money and buy a second store, and then later buy a third store, so that each of them would eventually own his own drugstore. World War I intervened between college and buying their first store.
Rall joined the Marines and trained at Quantico, Virginia. When he enlisted, they wanted him to be a medic because of his education, but he insisted that he wanted to be a machine-gunner. He became part of the Machine Gun Battery of the U.S. Marine 5th Brigade. Eventually, he was sent to France aboard a ship. His mother, Hannah, was a nervous wreck until the ship landed in France. Apparently, she had some terrible memory of someone close to her who had died at sea.
According to Rall, the war ended right after he got to France. He must have been there for some time, however. In later years, he and the woman he married, Hulda Mae Bollheimer, corresponded with a woman named Yvonne whom Rall met in France. They were pen pals until World War II, when they stopped receiving mail from her.
Rall never talked about his time in the Marines, although he was very proud of being one. The only story told about his tour of service was about when he was on guard duty one night at the Louvre in Paris. He said he was on patrol with his rifle at the ready. He turned a corner, and suddenly there was a soldier pointing a rifle at him. Quickly, he realized he was seeing his reflection in a mirror. He delighted in the story that a couple of days later, the same thing happened to another Marine who blasted the mirror to pieces.
After he returned from World War I, Rall and the two brothers started their plan, and eventually Rall owned a drugstore in Minster, Auglaize County, Ohio which he operated for several years. He hired Hulda Mae Bollheimer to work in the drugstore. She was the daughter of John Anton Bollheimer and Anna Margaret Luckman. In 1923, Rall and Hulda were married. They had two children: Lois and another daughter.
In 1935, Rall sold the drugstore. We don't know why he sold the store in Minster to Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Sherman and bought a store in Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio. The new store, however, did have a soda fountain and was next to a movie theater. Rall and his family lived in Wapakoneta for about a year. His oldest daughter, Lois, was diagnosed with a serious illness, so he sold the drugstore, bought a house trailer, and moved his family to the West. In Phoenix, Arizona, he found out his daughter had been misdiagnosed. He chose to keep both children out of school for a year and enjoy traveling in the West.
Eventually, he returned to Ohio and worked as a pharmacist in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio. When World War II was being waged, it quickly lowered the number of doctors and pharmacists who were available. They were suddenly in service. As a result, Rall had to work out a plan with the only other pharmacist on the west side of Dayton. They would each have every other Sunday off. This meant working thirteen days before getting a day off.
Other changes were made, too. Doctors could see only the most serious cases. People began calling Rall, "Doc." He was the only doctor some of them had. It was as if the drugstore were a triage unit. Rall would help the ones he could and try to get doctors to see the others.
It was a particularly bad time for the black people. White doctors did not see black patients in the 1940s. To see one of the black doctors in town was difficult. They were far away. No tires or gasoline were available without a permit. Rall got together with a doctor who had an office down the side street by the drugstore. Rall would do triage in the store to handle what he could. Then, after the doctor's office hours, he would help sneak the very sick black people down the alley and into the doctor's office. That way, the black people were treated and there was no problem about it. Everyone kept the secret.
Rall died September 19, 1953 in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio. As the visitation for him was ending at the funeral home, his wife Hulda was preparing to leave. Suddenly, a lone black man came diffidently into the funeral home. He wanted to pay his respects to Rall. He had not wanted to come when the white people were there. Hulda greeted him warmly. He was certainly welcome. Then, he told her there were others outside. She invited them in. They chose not to sign the book, but are still remembered with warmth.
When Rall died, there was a graveside service. A group of Marines in dress blues came. There were at least six, because six of them signed the book at the funeral home. One of them played "Taps." There was, also, the very impressive rifle salute. And, of course, the presentation to Hulda of the United States flag.
This page belongs to The Völker Haus
Created: 1 Apr 2001
Modified: 9 Apr 2001
Copyright © 2001, Jennifer Volker