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Dr. Samuel Hall, who helped found the first state-wide poison control center in Minnesota, took action when he saw a need in the community.

Hall, 64, served at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and the Veterans Medical Center in Minneapolis.

He died July 19 at his Shoreview home. He had been recuperating from a stroke suffered in December.

New ideas in medicine often encounter resistance from professionals who claimed it was "impossible" to do, said Dr. Wesley Miller, interim chairman of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

"Sam would see something" others did not, said Miller. "If it was a good idea, he would find a way to do it."

Cofounding the former Minnesota Regional Poison Control Center was an example.

"He forged the legislation to allow it to happen," said Miller.

Hall grew up in Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University's Medical School in 1970. He served as a Navy doctor for a few years and came to the University of Minnesota for a residency in internal medicine, completing it in 1976.

Over time, he would add the specialties of occupational medicine and medical toxicology to his résumé.

From 1976 to 1999, he served on the staff of Regions Hospital, rising to the head of occupational and environmental medicine.

From 1999 until his death, he was the director of occupational health services at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and medical director for Damarco Solutions, an occupational health consulting firm, which he cofounded.

Throughout his career, he worked at no charge with indigent patients, most recently at the Neighborhood Involvement Program clinic in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood.

Dr. Bryan Warren, an internist at Regions, said Hall joined Regions because he wanted to help poor patients, to conduct research and to teach.

Hall also was an adjunct professor for the University of Minnesota, training new physicians in his various specialties.

Dr. Lawrence Betts of Poquoson, Va., served his residency with Hall and said he was one of the best medical toxicologists in the nation.

"He allowed independent thought but gave guidance, so you didn't make a mistake" and hurt a patient, said Betts, a retired Navy captain.

Carol Houliston, chief operating officer at Damarco, served an internship at the poison control center, where Hall was medical director from 1981 to 1999.

While recuperating from his stroke this winter, Hall noticed that the hospital where he was treated didn't have wireless Internet access for patients, so he funded it, said Houliston.

"When he thought something wasn't right, he fixed it," she said.

He is survived by two sisters, Beverly Swanstrom of Champaign, Ill., and Helen Ferrill of Clinton, Ill.

A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. today at Hillside Chapel and Cemetery, 2610 19th Av. NE., Minneapolis, with tributes at 3 p.m.