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Nobdy Else Quite Like Jack

By Jim Halperin
Courtesy Coin World: December 20, 1999

Is it really always the good ones, or does it only seem that way?

Gainesville, Georgia coin dealer Piece (Jack) Hancock, Jr., a dear friend to many, many numismatists, died November 14 from congestive heart failure at only 49. Everyone who knew Jack liked him, and none of us can remember Jack ever uttering a negative word about anybody. He, for sure, was one of the good ones.

Stories of Jack's warm and generous nature abound. Divorced over a decade ago, Jack and his wife stayed close anyway and even continued to take vacations together with their children, which tells you something about him right there. Similarly, Jack and childhood friend, Bob Harwell, ended their business partnership in 1983, because Jack wanted to spend more time with his new baby, but they stayed such good friends that they became partners again for good in 1988. The firm will survive as Hancock and Harwell Rare Coins. Once Jack's in your life, he's with you forever.

The couple who own Jack's favorite restaurant, upon learning of his death, burst into tears. In the first six months after they opened Thai Dish, their roof caved in. Jack loaned them money to fix it, which saved their business. Jack has a lot of friends like that. About a thousand of them came to the funeral home or the service to honor his memory. Most were friends, relatives and clients from the Gainesville and Atlanta area. Others flew in from Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis, Miami, Kentucky and New York. No one in Gainesville could ever remember seeing a turnout like that, but nobody else was ever quite like Jack.

It's hard to predict what we'll most often recall about him: the gregarious optimism, the guileless honesty, the knowledge, the stories or just that smile. But the signature of Jack's personality was unwavering enthusiasm. Jack got excited about everything he did, whether studying Dahlonega gold coins (he knew as much about them as anyone alive), negotiating a deal, tinkering with RareGold.com, dining out with friends while sipping his Tanqueray and tonic or maybe a martini, boating by his house on Lake Lanier, or raising two fine teen-aged sons, Will and Matt, whom he showered with love and attention and talked about constantly because he was so proud of them. Jack was always into it, absorbed in the moment, his exuberance contagious. To be with Jack Hancock was to have a good time. You couldn't help it.

Jack did business the slow way, never in a hurry, because he wanted you to savor the process as much as he did. "We're getting' close on this deal, Jim. Just a few more details to work out. Let's go out on my boat and discuss it." Or, "I'll bring these few coins with us. We can look at 'em at the restaurant." Over the past 25 years, Jack and I did a lot of deals together, including some multi-million dollar transactions, more often than not on nothing more than a handshake. A tough and relentless negotiator he was, but always honest and pleasant, never unreasonable and most admirable of all, consistently more focused on his clients' interests than on his own.

We will miss him.

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