James M. Hancock, 79, architect
James M. “Jim” Hancock was born on December 16, 1936 in Anderson, IN and passed surrounded by family one-day shy of his 80th birthday on December 15, 2016 after a seven-month battle with lung cancer.
He graduated from Anderson High School in 1955. Shortly before graduation and planning on an engineering degree, he needed to earn some extra credits so he took an architecture class; the trajectory of his life was forever altered. A year later and newly married, he headed to the University of Cincinnati where in 1961, he earned his Bachelor in Architecture, a fairly uncommon occupation in the early 60s, especially for a young man raised in a large mid-west town built around Delco-Remy, a division of GM, known for making auto parts. Upon graduation, he was asked to stay on and teach but chose to move to Philadelphia where he had been offered a grant by UPenn and studied for his Master’s under the noted architect, Louis Kahn, who was teaching there at the time. His love of travel propelling him forward, he applied for a stipend at a design company in Copenhagen, Denmark where he moved his young family in 1966. There he worked and they traveled extensively, at one point in a VW bug tootling through Scandinavia. His love of Scandinavian minimalism would become a hallmark of his future work, focusing on efficiency and simplicity while maintaining a visually appealing design. He returned to the US in 1967 and moved to Ridgefield, CT where he worked with Robert Faesy for nearly ten years before opening his solo practice. He was involved with the Ridgefield Environmental Action Program (REAP) in the mid-70s, designing the original recycling center, and spent many years on the Planning and Zoning Board as well as the Historic District Commission. He designed the Ballard Park gazebo which, several facelifts later, still stands today. With his love of historical buildings, he created a niche for renovating older homes, focusing on clean lines, use of space and maintaining the beauty of the original design. He was recognized by the Ridgefield CT Board of Realtors with “House of the Year” from 1992-1996. One of his renovations was featured in 1989 on HGTV. One of his final projects was the “restoration and reuse” of The Granary (c. 1850) on West Street in New Milford for which he and his son and partner, James “Cass” Hancock, were recognized at the State Capital by the CT Trust for Historic Preservation and received a 2006 Award of Merit. They were also presented with the Annual Award for Preservation by the New Milford Preservation Trust.
Jim leaves behind a daughter, Paige Hancock McHugh of Killingworth and son, Cass Hancock of New Milford as well as his grandchildren, Ian McHugh and Savannah Hancock, his brother, John Hancock of Anderson IN as well as several nieces and nephews. He also leaves his long-time companion, Betty Dodd of Southbury and Clyde the Cat (who now is living large with a family friend). He was predeceased by his sister, Sharon Sheets and his parents, Bessie Hancock and Wayne Hancock, all of Anderson, Indiana.
A collector of all-things porcine, an avid reader and lover of diners as well as greasy spoons, his wry sense of humor and quiet “what could go wrong?” optimism will be missed most. He loved Boston Cream donuts and a good coffee; a 1st quarter 2017 dip in earnings should be expected at Dunkin Donuts. His smiling bearded face walking through the door at family gatherings with a crazy hat to suit the occasion will be especially missed.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, January 27, 2017 at St. Stephen’s North Hall, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield CT from 5-8p. A short presentation of his life will be presented at 6pm. Anyone with a story to share for inclusion in Dad’s memorial are encouraged to email Cass Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paige McHugh at email@example.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Connecticut Hospice, 100 Double Beach Rd. Branford CT, 06405 or CT Animal House, a non-profit rescue organization, at P.O. Box 343, Waterford, CT 06385.