When Fox Chapel’s Howard “Hoddy” Hanna III was in basic training with the United States Army, his father Howard Jr. was already on track to build a successful business that would one day become the fourth largest real estate company in the United States. United.
But he still found time to send a letter to his son every day.
âIt really meant a lot,â Hanna said.
In 1957, Hanna Jr. and his wife Anne Freyvogel Hanna started Howard Hanna Real Estate Services with a single office in Pittsburgh.
Nearly seven decades later, the company’s green and yellow sign is present along the highway not only in western Pennsylvania but also in the United States, and this unique office has grown into the fourth largest real estate company in the country.
Howard Hanna Jr. passed away on Saturday, September 25. He was 101 years old.
Hanna’s business empire, which includes offices in Erie, began in a small office on the corner of Bayard and Craig streets in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a few blocks from the family home. In 1973 the first branch opened on Loop Street in Aspinwall.
In the mid-1980s, the “Howard Hanna Showcase of Homes”, a television show featuring the company’s properties, made its debut. In 1992, the company was ranked # 1 in Pennsylvania by the industry publication REAL Trends Magazine.
Today, the company has operations in Michigan, Indiana, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Hanna’s home in Pennsylvania.
âPittsburgh has lost a business pioneer and civic leader,â said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Director. “Howard Hanna started small, and through hard work he changed the real estate industry.”
Jean Hayes of West Mifflin began working at Howard Hanna in 1986 as Assistant to the Regional Vice President South. Over the years, as she worked her way up the corporate ladder, she got to know her founder better and better, from buying her first word processor from Mr. Hanna to redesigning her office furniture.
âHe was in Florida when we bought some brand new furniture,â said Hayes, who is now the company’s purchasing and operations manager. “He didn’t like you changing anything, and when he got home his wife called me and said I had to be there when Howard got home, ‘because he will not take care of you ‘. “
Hayes said Mr. Hanna always loved when it was time to take out “The Thing,” a WWII-era military jeep.
âIt’s painted in Howard-Hanna green with the logo on it,â she said. “We still have it in a garage in Shadyside, and they take it out for the parades.”
Nancy Byrnes from the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh moved next door to Mr. Hanna and his wife over three decades ago. She said he was the embodiment of a good neighbor.
âHe was quick with a cheerful greeting, loved looking after his flowers and possessions and imparted a quiet strength that made us all feel more secure,â Byrnes said. “And our daughters particularly remember his epic Easter egg hunts. It’s no wonder that helping families create happy homes and good neighborhoods was the backbone of his business career.”
Hanna said her father was a human person, “who could relate to almost anyone in life, people from all walks of life.”
Today, Hanna is President of Hanna Holdings, Inc., and said he learned not only about his father’s business acumen, but also how much time he spends with his employees.
âI got so many notes from people in the company that I didn’t even know he knew him,â he said. “If he met you, you would become his friend very quickly.”
Howard Hanna, CFO, Tracy Rossetti Delvaux of Pittsburgh, who has known Hanna for almost three decades, agrees.
âThe best thing about him was that he started this big, big company, but on every level he knew you personally,â she said. “He knew where I had grown up, he knew what my passions were. When he walked into the office, he would always ask how everyone was doing, and then he would go into his business.”
Hanna is survived by her children: Howard W. âHoddyâ Hanna III (and his wife MaryAnne), Helen Hanna Casey (Stephen) and Annie Hanna Cestra (Dennis); her grandchildren Annie Hanna Engel (Gus), Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna, IV (Stacey), Kelly Hanna Riley (Patrick), F. Duffy Hanna (Dana), Mollie Hanna Lang (Tom), Sarah Hanna White ( Andrew), Dennis A. Cestra, Jr., Helen Freyvogel Cestra, Annie McTighe Cestra and the late Vincent de Paul Carson; and by 19 great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at John A. Freyvogel Sons Funeral Homes, 4900 Center Ave. in Oakland.
A 10 a.m. funeral service will be held Thursday at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 108 North Dithridge St. in North Oakland. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, keepsakes can be made at the Howard W. Hanna Jr. Scholarship Fund at the University of Pittsburgh, or the Urban League of Pittsburgh-Cleveland Hanna Home Ownership Fund.