In Memoriam – mineral collecting hobbyist John Hanahan

In Memoriam – mineral collecting hobbyist John Hanahan – Obituary

Robert B. Cook

John “Jack” Hanahan (1924-2001)

One of the mineral collecting hobby’s most ardent supporters, John “Jack” Hanahan, passed away 8 October 2001 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Car olina. Jack was born 5 August 1924 in Charleston, South Carolina, to John and Hardin Davant Hanahan. He graduated from Saint Andrews School in Middletown, Delaware, and later received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Tennessee. Most of Jack’s professional career was spent at Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, North Carolina, where, from 1952 until his retirement in 1987, he taught geology, geography, and Spanish; coached the golf and tennis teams; and was ultimately named chairman of the Geosciences Division. Subsequent to his retirement he continued his association with the abbey, acting as a professor emeritus and an associate in the Danforth Foundation. In his later years he was best known for successful alumni fund-raising activities that resulted from his decades of outstanding student mentoring and educational dedication.

Jack was well known as a collector of fine minerals who had a particular love of North Carolina specimens. This resulted in his active participation as a speaker, exhibitor, and judge at functions of both the Eastern and American Federations of Mineralogical Societies. He was instrumental in developing the rules by which competitive mineral displays are judged at shows, having served as the chairman of the Uniform Rules Committee of the American Federation. He was past president of the Southern Appalachian Mineralogical Society and a founding member of the Friends of Mineralogy. Jack was noted for his mineralogical generosity, either placing specimens in, or acting in associated curatorial or similar roles for, such museums as the National Science Museum in Charleston, South Carolina; the Colburn Museum in Asheville, North Carolina; the Grandfather Mountain Museum near Linville, North Carolina; and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the latter through his friendship with past curators Paul Desautels and John White. One of his most enduring contributions to the hobby was his help in establishing Wildacres as an Eastern Federation learning center where literally hundreds of mineral and lapidary enthusiasts have received instruction in various aspects of the hobby in a warm, retreatlike atmosphere.

Although Jack was a voracious reader, he generally left the chore of authorship to others, preferring to work behind the scenes to ensure quality in collector-related magazines and journals. To this end, long-ago evenings of quiet discussion at his retreat in the mountains near Celo, North Carolina, played an important role in the development of ideas that resulted in the Mineralogical Record. When Rocks & Minerals was floundering in the years after the death of long-time editor/publisher Peter Zodac, Jack was one of the few who agreed to act as an executive editor when the magazine was purchased by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation in 1975. He served in this capacity for many years before “retiring” to become a consulting editor, a position he held until his death. Still, along the way he found time to write several articles about his favorite North Carolina collecting localities (see Rocks & Minerals volume 53, pages 158-75, and volume 60, pages 76-82, for articles on the Foote mine and a North Carolina update, respectively). His ultimate goal was to coauthor, with friend Boyd Mattison, a comprehensive and elaborately color-illustrated mineralogy of North Carolina, a dream he shared with many but one that will now never come to pass.

Finally, speaking as one who was close to Jack for his last forty-one years, I hope that all of our individual memories of him will be couched in the understanding that he was beset with many of the honest quirks and eccentricities that characterize unusually intelligent, somewhat single-minded people. Regardless, his willingness to give of himself, both directly and indirectly, to those thirsting for knowledge and in need of encouragement was great, perhaps even unsurpassed. No one who knew him could possibly be deficient in fond memories and elaborate stories of “Professor Hanahan.” Few have supported the hobby by nurturing new collectors, contributing intellectual talents, and helping to upgrade both private and public collections as much as he, and for these things he will be warmly remembered by an unusually large number of devotees of this great pastime.

Robert B. Cook

Department of Geology and Geography

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama 36849-5305

Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, writes the Connoisseur’s Choice column for the magazine.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Heldref Publications

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