Memorial service planned for alumnus Dan Ha
The family of Dan Ha, '10, will hold a memorial service for the Stanford graduate tonight at 7:30 p.m. at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in San Francisco. The church is located at 3281 16th St.
Ha, who graduated with a degree in computer science, was co-president of his senior class and went on to be a member of the founding team of StartX, a nonprofit startup accelerator intended to help Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2011, StartX has grown to be a significant source of support for Stanford entrepreneurs, helping to launch more than 100 companies.
Most recently, Ha worked as an iOS developer with Metromile.
Ha was last seen in San Francisco on the evening of Oct. 31. A ferry captain spotted a body the morning of Nov. 11 near pier 22, which the family believes to be Ha's based on clothing and personal items including his cell phone. The San Francisco Medical Examiners office has yet to identify the body.
Ansaf Kareem '10, co-president with Ha of their senior year, remembers Ha's sincerity. "You always felt like you got the real Dan, he was very authentic," Kareem said.
The fact that Ha helped start an entrepreneurial venture like StartX seemed like a logical step to Kareem. "He was very into technology, very ambitious and was already a leader so those are the hallmarks of an entrepreneur," he said. "Part of the success of StartX was his hard work and grit that he put into it."
The family had been searching for Ha since his disappearance, creating a Find Dan Ha website and Facebook group and holding search parties. The family held a press conference Nov. 12 after the body was found announcing that they believed it to be Ha's.
In a statement the family said that they had no reason to believe Ha's death was a suicide. He left no note and the next day he had a doctor's appointment and a work event he planned to attend.
At Stanford, friends and colleagues remember Ha as a large man with a big smile.
Luke Taylor sang with Ha in the Stanford a capella group Talisman, which has its roots in the music of South Africa. "His whole face lit up when he smiled. It's this little kid part of him that never went away," Taylor said.
Taylor and Ha visited South Africa together with Talisman. "Dan had a lot of commitment to doing good in the world and I think the trip was important to him."
Koren Bakkegard, associate dean of residential education, worked with Ha for new student orientation after his freshman year. "He was like everybody's little brother and we loved him so much," she said.
Ha was learning to cook that summer, and went by the handle OC Top Chef on the orientation coordinator walkie talkies. "The other orientation coordinators were teasing him for all the experiments he had put them through," she said. "He had this exuberance for life and this cheerfulness and a shine from within."
Ha's resident adviser freshman year, Jonathan Jourdane, remembered Ha as a gentle friend. Everything seemed to be effortless for Dan, Jourdane said, whether it was playing piano or technology, or making people happy.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that the year Dan was a coworker and resident was my happiest year," he said. "He was just so pleasant."
Katherine Hagey, who was an orientation coordinator along with Ha, said he liked to be surrounded by people and to help others. "And he loved technology," she said. "StartX was a perfect fit."
Leslie Winick, director of alumni class outreach, knew Ha when he was one of the senior class presidents. "He had a reassuring presence and was a real leader," she said. "He seemed to take absolute pure delight in the people in his class who were surrounding him."
Winick said Ha had recently volunteered to help organize his class five-year reunion. "I think that was a reflection of how much he enjoyed spending time with his classmates."