After graduating from high school, he worked as an assistant salesman for Hallmark, traveling the Midwestern United States. Hall then attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, still working a nearby sales territory for Hallmark while completing his A.B. in economics. Upon graduation from Dartmouth in 1950, he joined the United States Army, served most of his military career as an officer at a small post in Gifu, Japan. After returning from abroad, he married his wife, Adele, in Kansas City. They had three children, Donald J. Hall, Jr., Margaret Hall (now Pence), and David E. Hall.
Career and philanthropy
Hall returned to Hallmark in 1953 and became Assistant to the President in 1954. In 1966, after Donald had served as an Administrative Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Hallmark, Joyce Hall retired as Chairman, President, and CEO of Hallmark, handing full control of the company to Donald.
As Chairman, President, and CEO of Hallmark, Hall worked both to increase the prominence of the company in the international business community, and also worked to develop Kansas City. As such, he founded the Hall Family Foundation, which consistently gives away hundreds of millions of dollars a year to public and private education, social welfare causes, religious causes, and civic beautification both in Kansas City and throughout the surrounding region. Because of this, former President George H. W. Bush named Hall Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Hall and his foundation permanently loan the majority of the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. His civic beautification efforts have resulted in the establishment of Crown Center in midtown Kansas City and the redevelopment of the Quality Hill historic neighborhood in downtown Kansas City. As a result, Hall, his company, and his foundation, are together the largest private landowner in the Kansas City area. He is also one of only three "honorary alumni" of the University of Kansas.
Hall has long been active in local and national politics. He is a major campaign contributor, especially to Republican candidates throughout the United States.
During Hall's tenure as Chairman, President, and CEO of Hallmark, he expanded the company into both crayons (buying Binney & Smith, manufacturer of Crayola products) and television production (Hallmark Entertainment). Hallmark's greeting card operation also began consistently to account for more than half of all greeting cards sold in the United States.
In 1986, Hall stepped down as President and CEO of Hallmark, turning those positions over to Irvine O. Hockaday, Jr., a native Kansas Citian and consummate national businessman. Hall, however, retained the position of Chairman of the Board, as he remains the company's overwhelmingly majority shareholder. Since deferring direct control of the business, however, he has instead concentrated on his philanthropic and political finance efforts.