Jack Hannah, co-founder of Sons of San Joaquin, dead at 88

Jack Hannah, co-founder of award-winning Western band The Sons of the San Joaquin, died Sunday after a brief bout of illness, his family said.

Hannah, a native of Marshfield, Mississippi, was born to Lon “Broad” Hannah and his wife, Melba, on October 25, 1933, one of three sons.

As the Great Depression and Dust Bowl took hold, the Hannahs—like many others in the American Plains states—moved to California, finding initial refuge in the woods before finally landing in Visalia.

While excelling in football, basketball, and baseball at Visalia High School, Hannah and her brother, Joe, would find great success in the American pastime.

Joe Hannah, who played catcher, was signed with the Chicago Cubs after high school.

Jack, meanwhile, headed to Fresno State to pitch under the tutelage of Pete Beiden. While a Bulldog, Hannah remained a sports two-man, playing fullback and linebacker for the Fresno State football team.

During her sophomore season, Hannah injured her shoulder while playing football – an injury that would prove fatal to her career.

Despite this, Hannah’s three seasons under Beiden went 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA and .328 batting average.

In 1955, Hannah signed with. the then Milwaukee Braves organization as a pitcher.

Over seven seasons, Hannah rose through the minor league ranks with the Braves before wrapping up her Triple-A career with the California Angels farm team in their second year of existence.

This football injury to his shoulder left his joints particularly arthritic and unable to fully heal, leaving him unable to make the leap to the big leagues.

At the end of the 1962 season, Hannah had a career change – thanks to her graduation from Fresno State.

Hannah’s new role? Teacher and coach of football, wrestling, and baseball at Hoover High School. His tenure, which included a coaching record of 314-148, was crowned with applause in 1980 as California’s high school coach of the year. Hannah was also named National Coach of the Year for the United States Southwest.

Hannah would also be a guidance counselor at Clovis West High School.

The Sons of the San Joaquin were formed in 1987, with his brother – Joe – as bassist and his nephew – Lonnie – as lead and rhythm guitarist for a birthday party for Jack and Joe’s father, Lon .

Over the next 35 years, with performances around the world, The Sons of the San Joaquin have become the regional musical ambassadors of the San Joaquin Valley’s latter days, embodying trademark cowboy music.

The trio were inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2011, Hannah was named the association’s Songwriter of the Year.

Several of Sons of the San Joaquin’s albums have won awards from the Oklahoma City-based National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Hannah is survived by his wife of 62 years, Linda, four children and nine grandchildren.

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