John Hancock

Profile Updated: January 9, 2010
(City) State or Country Sacramento, CA USA
Spouse/Partner Mark Jacobs
Military Service US Army  
Children, grandchildren John (born 1983)
Kate (born 1988)

January 2010

After graduation, I was off to Stanford to get radicalized. As you recall, this was leading up to the peak of the Vietnam war, and the San Francisco Bay Area college population was not enthusiastic about Vietnam. We Stanford students went up to Berkeley, where they had the best riots (yes, I did stick carnations in the National Guard rifle barrels as we marched through the People’s Park), then retreated to bourgeois comfort in Palo Alto. This was also, just before graduation, the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane.... Of course, all this created a certain tension for me since I went to Stanford on an ROTC scholarship. Once I was suitably radical and frankly a total hippie, I offered to pay the Army back if they’d let me out. They needed cannon fodder so it was no go.

After Stanford I was, of course, in the Army. In the Artillery (the big guns), I was sent to Europe and ordered to Vietnam a year later. To my great good fortune, the Army discovered it was a mistake. I was actually scheduled to go a couple of years later, but they had messed up, so I got a reprieve. Soon the war began to wind down, and I was bounced out since they no longer needed people.

I went back to Washington, DC and worked for Ralph Nader for a while (this was when he was a good guy, before he got Bush elected). I then got a job in the U.S. Treasury as a programmer. About this time we all learned that Nixon actually WAS a crook. The Washington Post was like a serialized novel, installments delivered daily to your door, detailing yet more slimy things Nixon's government was up to. I remember celebrating in Lafayette Park across from the White House the day Nixon resigned.

I was admitted to the University of Chicago Law School and went, knowing only that it was the best of the law schools that accepted me. What luck! Chicago was a great place! A wonderful intellectual focus imbued the law school and the whole campus. I worked for Professor Richard Posner, a brilliant and creative man, who now sits on the Seventh Circuit (Federal) Court of Appeals. I also met a delightful woman in the undergraduate college, Mimi, whom I saw for most of my 3 years in Chicago.

After school, I got a job offer from a prestigious firm in San Francisco. At first I didn’t want to go – been there, done that, don’t want to be a hippie any more. My friends hollered at me till I got rational and took the job. I asked Mimi to join me, and we were married in September, 1977. I’m amused to remember still what I first told her on the phone about my new law firm job: “Mimi, I’m making more money than I ever thought I could. I don’t think we could ever spend this if we tried to!” Ah, the joy of your first “real” job! I soon learned we’d have no trouble spending it.

Mimi got her doctorate at UC Berkeley – no more riots – and we had two wonderful children. Alas, as we grew older we also grew apart, and by 1990 we found that counseling couldn’t repair the damage. Divorce was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m happy to say that we were very mindful of the kids’ needs, we still have a cordial relationship, and the kids don’t seem to be hurt at all.

I also discovered, a few years later, that I’ve always been gay. Maybe I’m just a slow learner. This is something many of us just don’t want to admit to ourselves because society teaches us that being gay is a very bad thing, so I managed to repress this fact for about 40 years. Fortunately, I’m now in a part of the country where people are welcome to be as they really are, not as others think they should be. When the realization rather suddenly surfaced, no one – my kids, my ex, my friends – was as surprised by this news as I was. And since I was in the Bay Area, no one but me especially cared. Happily, within a year I met a wonderful guy, and we’ve been together for nearly 11 years now. In 2009, during the brief outbreak of equality in California, we were married. (we've got pictures of the fun, as well as a great trip to Russia we took, at this site).

In 2006 my company was acquired by Wachovia. I didn't see my future in Charlotte, N.C., the banking center of the free world these days, so I took a great job in Sacramento. I never thought I'd leave the Bay Area, but happily it's just down the road when we want to see our friends. Here I'm the General Counsel for a mid-size California bank, part of an enormous Dutch bank (about the size of Wachovia. Maybe that's ironic...) We've got a delightful house on a park and have settled into the community. For the first time since I've been out of law school, I own an air conditioner! My son graduated from college a few years ago and my daughter will graduate this spring from Vassar. We plan to attend her graduation, then go play in New York for a few days ourselves.

My husband Mark and I bought a vacation place in Palm Springs a while ago, and we enjoy relaxing there just about every time there's a long weekend. We may well retire there before too long, one of the few places in the country where people still refer to us as “you young people.”

School Memories

I remember with great amusement (in hindsight) publishing two editions of "La Verdad", a gossip sheet that revealed who kissed whom behind the gymnasium. Tom McCallum and I ran it off on mimeograph -- remember that purple stuff in the days before photocopiers? For a fellow who was very geeky-techie, I thought it was pretty special to help create such a scandal and have such a wicked secret!

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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM