Friends and neighbors are mourning the loss of the Avon Lady among five people who died when two Allentown homes blew up Wednesday night.
Firefighters were still dousing flames an hour after the blast when bystanders started saying they feared one victim was the Avon Lady – Beatrice Hall.
Hall and her husband Bill lived on the corner of 13th and Allen streets “forever,” said neighbors Bill and Dotty Yanett.
The Yanetts recalled their neighbors as friendly – always waving or stopping to chat – and active in Salem United Methodist Church, just a few blocks away from their home.
Janet Gibiser of South Whitehall knew Hall mainly from socializing with her at Avon-related events along with her sister Sue, who is also a sales representative for the cosmetic company.
“I’ve known Bea for, oh gosh, eight or 10 years,” Gibiser said. “She was a real hard worker for Avon. She had a really bubbly and enthusiastic personality.”
Sue Gibiser was too distraught to speak further with Patch concerning the loss of her Avon colleague.
Shawn Henry of Allentown recalled his mother, Kathy, spent a lot of time with Hall through the years. “She used to walk with her a lot through the neighborhood,” Henry said.
Kathy Henry knew Hall for more than 15 years . She said she was struck by the pride Hall took in her appearance.
"She always looked so good. She always has her hair done. She represented Avon immensely and with such pride," Hall said. "So many times, several years ago, she was in my house and we'd do the chit chat, gossipy thing."
Hall said she hadn't purchased Avon products in several years, but ran into Hall about two and a half weeks ago at Ahart's Market.
"I still can't believe it," she said. "I only just saw here. She'll definitely be missed."
The Rev. James Anderman, pastor of Salem United Methodist Church, said the Halls were "a compatible pair," with Beatrice being the talker and Bill being the silent one. She was in the choir too.
Both were active in the church, helping with its food pantry twice a month. Beatrice was welcoming, and she would engage the people who came to the pantry, learning their needs, he said.
"She was the most talkative person. She was the sales person," Anderman said.
Bill was often the face at the entryway, letting people inside.
Salem United Methodist Church had planned a Valentine's Day dance for Friday night. But given the deaths and the number of church members displaced by the explosion, Anderman said, he now plans a service of remembrance and hope for the community at 7 p.m. on Friday.