NEW YORK (AP) Gus Hall, the American Communist Party boss who steadfastly stuck to his beliefs through years in prison and the collapse of communist regimes around the world, has died. He was 90.
Hall died Friday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan of complications relating to diabetes, Scott Marshall, a Communist Party official, said Monday.
A communist activist since 1926, Hall never repudiated his ideas, even after the dissolution of communist societies in eastern Europe and the dismantling of the Soviet Union, events he bitterly lamented.
He called former Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin "a wrecking crew."
He was convicted in 1949 for conspiring to teach the violent overthrow of the federal government. He jumped bail after his arrest and fled to Mexico, where he was arrested and sent back. He spent most of the 1950s in jail.
"I did what I believe in. I believe socialism is inevitable," he said in an interview in April 1992.
Hall said government harassment was responsible for the decline in party membership, from about 100,000 in the 1930s to about 15,000 in the 1990s.
Despite the isolation, Hall was known for his joviality. He ran for president four times and never garnered even 1 percent of the vote. He blamed that on election law requirements, which kept him off the ballot in half the states when he last ran in 1984, polling 36,386 votes.
Hall was born Arvo Kusta Halberg in Virginia, Minn., on Oct. 8, 1910. He was one of 10 children of Finnish immigrants. His father, often jobless because of union activity, headed the local chapter of the Communist Party.
Hall is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, their two children, Barbara and Arvo; and three grandchildren.