Howard Hanna Jr., the founder of the eponymous Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, died on Saturday, according to an announcement made on the brokerage’s Facebook page.
“It is with our deepest sadness that we share the news of our founder, Mr. Hanna’s passing earlier today, September 25, 2021,” the post read. “At 101 years old, we are fortunate that we had a century with the pillar of our family, a business leader, and a community supporter.
“For those of you who knew him, we hope that you will remember him fondly, including his wonderful handwritten notes and his corny jokes,” the post continued. “But most of all you will remember his commitment to his family and to all of our agents and employees at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.”
Hanna founded HHRES in 1957 with his late wife Anne Freyvogel Hanna. The brokerage, which first operated from a one-room office near their home in Pittsburgh, eventually grew into the largest family-owned and operated brokerage in the U.S.
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services ranked No. 5 in transaction sides and No. 7 by sales volume in the latest RealTrends 500 ranking of top brokerage firms in the U.S.
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“Howard Hanna was a true pioneer but the thing that impressed me the most about him was how even well into his 90s, he would take the time to write personal notes of welcome to new agents and staff of Howard Hanna companies,” said Steve Murray, senior advisor to RealTrends.
“He was a true gentleman. I know he will be missed, not only by members of his family but by all the people who had the pleasure of meeting him over the last many years,” said Murray.
Prior to starting the real estate brokerage, Hanna earned two business degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, served in the U.S. Army in World War II, achieving the rank of captain by the time he left military in 1946, and was an active member of the local economic community, serving as executive vice president for the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland.
Since the brokerage’s founding in 1957, it has passed through the family and is currently run by Hanna’s grandchildren: Annie Hanna Engel, Hoby Hanna, Kelly Hanna Riley, Duffy Hanna and Dennis Cestra, Jr. Under the stewardship of Hanna’s children and now grandchildren, HHRES has become a force within brokerage. It also offers mortgage, title and insurance services, and has more than 400 residential and commercial offices across 11 states, and more than 13,000 sales associates and staff members.
Hanna leaves behind his three children, 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.