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Remembering real estate pioneer and philanthropist Howard Hanna Jr. (BUS ’42, ’49G)

Howard Hanna wearing grey suit with blu and gold tie

Howard Hanna Jr. (BUS ’42, ’49G), founder of the largest independently owned real estate business in the country, has died at 101. 

Hanna attended the University of Pittsburgh to study marketing and returned after serving in World War II to complete a master’s degree in business marketing using funding from the GI Bill.

In 1957, he launched Howard Hanna Real Estate Services from an initial investment of just $40, the Post-Gazette reported in its obituary. From there, the family company became a leader of the industry, boasting more than 13,500 employees across 11 states today.

“Howard Hanna Jr. was a remarkable role model in the University of Pittsburgh community for decades — as a loyal alumnus, a philanthropist, a leader and an entrepreneur,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We’re all thankful for his kindness and generosity and also for the inspiration he has provided to generations of students who dream of success.” 

In 2014, Hanna earned Cathedral of Learning Society donor status with a gift of $1 million to the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration to provide need-based financial support for business students.

“Howard Hanna’s legacy will live on in the educational opportunities he’s provided for students in need here at Pitt Business,” said Arjang A. Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean. “As a remarkable business leader, his influence and positive impact are lasting examples of what we hope all of our graduates accomplish — using their business acumen for the greater good. On behalf of all of us at Pitt Business, we're sending our sincere condolences to his son Hoddy (Howard W. Hanna III) and the rest of the Hanna family.”

The University also named Hanna a Legacy Laureate in 2013 and a Distinguished Alumni Fellow in 2019.