Dan Hancock was born on June 21, 1947, in Bakersfield, California, the oldest of four boys born to Donald and Fawn (Stoddard) Hancock. The family moved to San Jose in 1949, where he would live until moving to San Ramon in 1980.
Dan excelled in school, both academically and in swimming, becoming one of the top high school backstroke swimmers in Santa Clara County. He graduated from Camden High School in 1965 and subsequently attended San Jose State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
In early 1969, mutual friends of his and Genny Ash set them up on a blind double date. The movie Romeo & Juliet set the tone for love, and romance blossomed. Dan and Genny married on November 8, 1969, keeping their vows and their devotion to each other until the end of his days.
To this marriage was born three sons, Jason, Aaron, and Chad. Dan and Genny’s early years together were lean ones with a newborn baby in the house, Dan finishing college, and Genny working to help support the family. After finishing college, Dan went to work for the Dunn Edwards Paint Store, driving the paint delivery truck over Highway 17 to Santa Cruz and back each day.
In 1975, he joined Golden State Title Company, the company his father had co-founded. When Don passed away in 1976, Dan assumed most of his father’s former duties with the company, forcing him to learn the business quickly while running the builder services division. His success with Golden State Title brought attention to Dan, and a suitor – Shapell Industries of Northern California, which recruited him away to serve as their Director of Land Acquisitions and Planning in 1979.
Dan moved from strength to strength, with promotions to Vice President in 1983, and President in 1986, a position in which he served until his retirement in 2001. Under his leadership, Shapell evolved into one of Northern California’s most innovative privately held homebuilding companies.
Dan was recognized in the industry for his strong working relationships with local governments and community leaders, which ultimately resulted in providing badly-needed housing in anti-growth areas. Projects that he brought to fruition included Eagle Ridge in Gilroy, Evergreen Hills in San Jose, and Alamo Creek in Danville.
Dan especially enjoyed overseeing the architectural aspects of the communities Shapell created, emphasizing the reintroduction of classic architecture reminiscent of the great old neighborhoods of Northern California. Of the projects he was involved in, he was particularly proud of Dougherty Valley, an 11,000-unit project in San Ramon. The development faced every obstacle possible and Dan was vigilant in planning for every nuance.
One of the things the job required, Dan always had plenty of — patience. Many of the projects would take eight or 10 years to complete.
Dan guided Shapell into new territory when he secured the talents of golf legend Johnny Miller and his design firm to create two exceptional golf courses in master-planned communities sponsored by Shapell: The Bridges at Gale Ranch in San Ramon and Eagle Ridge in Gilroy.
Active in community service, Dan was appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly to the California Little Hoover Commission from 1997 to 2013, where he served as Chairman from 2007, and was a Director and past President of the Home Builders Association of Northern California, Southern Division. In 2003, the California Homebuilding Foundation inducted him into its Builder’s Hall of Fame.
Dan was also the Chairman and founding Director of the San Jose Sports Authority, where he negotiated the use and design of the San Jose Arena and secured the Sharks National Hockey League team for the city, as well as attracting such high-profile events as the National Figure Skating Championships and the NCAA basketball regional finals.
Dan enjoyed politics, business, and sports, and enjoyed many hours discussing these three topics with each of his three sons, respectively, making each son approximately one-third of the man he was. He travelled across the world to Super Bowls, the Tour de France, The Masters golf tournament, and the NCAA Final Four, always in the company of family or friends.
One of Dan’s greatest joys in retirement was travel. With Genny at his side, he traveled to Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Chile, Argentina, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and many American locations. His generosity often allowed for unforgettable trips involving long stays at sunny beach houses or villas, with large groups of extended family and friends.
The Bible speaks of the days of a man’s years being threescore years and ten, a standard which Dan failed to meet by 59 days when he passed away on April 23, 2017. It is the only meaningful standard that he failed to uphold throughout his count of days. He leaves a legacy writ large across the landscape of his Bay Area home, and the hearts of the family and friends he leaves behind.
Dan is survived by his wife Genny, sons Jason (Rebecca), Aaron (Sarah), and Chad (Liz), grandchildren Joanna, Sarah, William, Abigail, Harper, Daniella, and Everett, mother Fawn, brothers Michael, Todd (Cathy), and Dennis, and brother-in-law Robert Ash (Kathleen). Due to Dan’s belief in the importance of education in maximizing the potential of each individual, and the role that choice and competition play in improving any product or service, he asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to charter schools at www.kippbayarea.org/donate/.