Tyler HancockIIAV Newsletter - Danny Mitchell
The TR6 is one cool car. British-made by Triumph with an inline 6-cylinder engine, a distinguished wood veneer dashboard and manual 4-speed transmission, these sporty two-seaters were manufactured between 1969 and 1976. Nearly 95,000 were built and they could sprint from 0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds and reportedly had a top speed of 120 mph. Tyler Hancock loves TR6s. In fact he’s restored in full or in part eighteen of them over the years. Triumph started building these delightful autos about the same time Hancock started working the insurance business. Tyler W. Hancock, AAI grew up in Toccoa in the upper northeastern corner of Georgia. His father had been a “threads and zippers” mill manager for Coats and Clark. Upon graduating from high school, Tyler attended nearby Piedmont College and graduated in 1967. The war in Vietnam was raging and few young men of the time escaped the long arms of the armed services. Tyler Hancock was classified 4-F due to a troublesome back. No military duty for him. Instead Hancock sought a career — any career. Meaningful job hunting was not productive. One of Hancock’s friends was employed with Commercial Union Insurance Company and suggested that Hancock give it a shot. He was hired as a “trainee” in the Atlanta office in 1969, the same year the first TR6 rolled off the assembly line. With Commercial Union, Hancock recalls that he “did just about everything from rating to underwriting to loss prevention.” The company sent him frequently to Boston for training. Initially, Hancock was a Personal Lines Underwriting Assistant; then he became a Personal Lines Underwriter. Following that, he was a Commercial Lines Underwriter. Later, Hancock went on to become Marketing Representative and then Marketing Manager. In 1974, Hancock relocated to Lynchburg, Virginia and then to Richmond a year later. While at Commercial Union in Richmond, Hancock was working with a young adjuster who happened to have a sister named Brenda, whom she thought Hancock should meet. A blind date in 1977 with another couple “over backyard steaks on the grill” was the start of a relationship and Tyler and Brenda would later wed. Tyler’s wife, Brenda, is a Learning Disability specialist at Midlothian Middle School. While working as a Personal Lines Regional Manager, Hancock was transferred to Jackson, Mississippi. Having worked through the years with agencies, Tyler had become quite familiar with the Richmond agency, Ford & Thomas, Inc. Upon returning to Richmond from Jackson in 1982, he began working there as a producer. Since then Hancock has grown with the agency. “Each time a principal retired, I bought them out,” said Hancock. In all, he has purchased the interests of eight partners. In 1999, he also purchased Palmer, Parker & Davis and serves as President of both that agency and Ford & Thomas.
While daughter Laura was working in Myrtle Beach, Tyler and Brenda were caring for Laura’s three-year old boxer, “Jager”. As Brenda has recounted in a written piece, she and Tyler were planning on a round of golf. It was Sunday morning and the Hancock’s 30th wedding anniversary was the following day. “Boxers are puppies for life,” Brenda writes. She continues, “Jager loved to go for a ride in any car, especially the small British cars where her head would face the wind and her ears and jowls took on a life of their own.” And so, Tyler and Jager took off in the car for a quick ride for some ice cream. Tyler Hancock Boxer, Jager They did not come home from that ride. It was July 22, 2007. At some point, not far from home, Jager had bolted from Tyler and streaked across Robious Road in Chesterfield County. Tyler chased after his beloved dog, stopping traffic as he, too, darted across the road. One car — a Chrysler Sierra — did not stop and struck Hancock. In discussing the events leading up to and immediately following that day, Hancock will readily admit that he “can’t really remember anything a month before or two months following the accident.” Unaware of the tragic event, Brenda frantically began searching the neighborhood for Tyler and Jager, while Tyler was being airlifted by helicopter to VCU Medical Center’s trauma unit. Upon learning of the circumstances, Brenda was rushed to the hospital where she was met by two chaplains. Tyler was in grave condition and initially given very little chance for survival. Hancock suffered through three operations during the first week. His legs were broken in thirteen places. Both arms were fractured. His lungs had collapsed and there were lacerations from head to toe. He was in a coma for ten days and spent the following two months in the hospital. Hancock bluntly says, “I totaled the car that hit me.”
When in Atlanta with Commercial Union, Hancock had been active in local groups and served as President of the Northside Atlanta Jaycees in 1971. In Virginia, becoming active in civic and professional groups was a natural progression. Hancock was elected as President of the Independent Insurance Agents of Richmond in 1990, served as Treasurer for the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia for three years from 2003 through 2005, was the IIAV Convention Committee Chair and also served on the Virginia Association of Insurance Agents (IIAV’s Educational Foundation) Board of Directors. In 1994 Hancock received his Accredited Advisor of Insurance (AAI) designation. Following other passions, Hancock founded the Richmond Triumph Club, and he and Brenda are members of Salisbury Presbyterian Church. Life was good for Tyler. The insurance agencies were thriving. He and Brenda were enjoying time together while their daughter, Laura, was working in Myrtle Beach. Laura had recently graduated from East Carolina University (she has since earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Virginia Commonwealth University) and Hancock had just been tapped as the Chairman of the Board of the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia at its annual convention in Norfolk. This comfortable lifestyle was about to abruptly take a new direction.
Jager was unharmed and had found refuge at a nearby nursing home that was under construction. Workers saw flyers that friends and family had distributed and identified her. She was reunited with Brenda shortly thereafter and resides with the Hancocks today. One can only imagine how this traumatic experience impacted the day-to-day lives of Tyler and Brenda. After all, Tyler was president of two insurance agencies and the newly elected Chairman of the IIAV Board of Directors. Many, many friends and colleagues stepped in to help in a variety of ways. The IIAV duties were immediately filled by IIAV executive officer Bob Bradshaw and IIAV First Chair Cindy Amick (IIAV Past President 2008-09). Hancock had also been a member of PIA and hoped to use his term to have IIAV and PIA work more closely and, perhaps, address possible merger issues. Today, Tyler is active, productive and still runs his agencies. His passion for restoring cars is as strong as ever. He still has a 1972 TR6 at home along with a 1963 Ford Galaxy 500 and a 1976 TVR. He has received his certification from the Panoz Racing School in Atlanta and completed its grueling 2 ½ mile course. He participates in the VMSC Auto Cross usually monthly. His golf swing may now be a bit awkward, but Hancock hopes to one day soon match his feat of May 7, 2006 when he attained the holy grail of golf — a hole in one. It was a 163-yard, par 3. If the weather is at least reasonably nice, you might find Hancock and Jager on his 26’ SUNDANCER boat he keeps on the James River. Hancock recalls that one day he was at the Boat Club pulling his boat out of water when he received a frantic call from a client in nearby Bon Air. One of the client’s dwellings was on fire. Tyler of course said he’d be right there. When Tyler arrived the client was grateful for his immediate response, but had to enquire, “Why did you bring the boat?” The next time you see a fully restored early 1970’s TR6, be sure to take pause. Underneath the glistening coat of paint, there may be a damaged body with plaster or fiberglass fillers. The frame may be held together with a few extra bolts or special welding to shore up a weak spot or two. And, it may sound terrific under the hood, but don’t automatically assume it can still go from 0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds. Still, it is one cool car and the envy of any sports car enthusiast. Restorations are remarkable, if not miraculous. The next time you see Tyler Hancock, give him a hug and let him know how good it is to see him…and make sure Jager is on a leash.