In Memory

Robert Manning

Robert Manning

Born: 1 Jan 1946
Died: 17 Apr 2011  Lexington, Alabama

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

06/20/14 01:51 PM #1    

Kathleen McCall

Encouraged by Jim Kahle’s story of Carl Thorne-Thomsen, I am inspired to reveal what many in our class may not know happened with Bob and I.

One night, twenty-three years ago, I came home to find a note by the telephone that read, “Call Bob”, with an area code I didn’t recognize.  It was from Bob Manning, living in Sarasota, FL.  (I was in Boulder, CO.) I hadn’t heard from Bob in 27 years! What was up, wondered this newly minted single woman?!

I called Bob and over the next months we began to re-connect. We had an interesting history: in Jr. High, Bob used to call me nightly with weird jokes and other silliness; I would beg him to stop calling me, yet as soon as I hung up, the phone would ring again. One night Bob decided I needed a nickname and to my horror, McCall became “McQuack” and “Quackie” became the moniker to endure. (I remember dear Laura Enos was particularly adept with its use!) Another day, I came out of Mr. Ruzich’s 8th grade Social Studies class to find cut out paper duck’s feet making a path down the hallway. Mortifying!  And guess whose handiwork that was?! One other unusual part of our history was that Bob’s uncle had been my mother’s first date at LFHS, and Bob was my first date at LFHS.

Bob and I began writing long letters (pre-email days, remember) and I have always believed it was through his eloquent written word that I fell in love with him. Also too, there is something to be said for pairing with a person who shared your formative years and has a background of similar ethics. It provides a secure foundation on which to build something. Among other supportive and loving gestures Bob bestowed, he encouraged me to take my writing seriously, one of the first to do so, and for which I remain grateful. Bob was a brilliant Renaissance Man, a member of Mensa, a romantic at heart, with his wonderful sense of humor still very much intact. He was a man of the sea and after his time in the Navy, became licensed as a “Captain of All Oceans”, spending his days as a captain of cargo ships, and captaining people’s yachts, seeing much of the world in this regard. It’s fun to remember it all began with his sailfish and the rides he gave us down at Lake Bluff beach.

After a short period of re-acquainting ourselves, he asked me if I would join him, and two other men friends, as crew for sailing one man’s yacht from St. Augustine, FL up the coast to a Connecticut harbor. My kids said, “Mom, you’re doing it.” So, seasickness pills in hand, I did. I flew to Orlando airport having no idea what Bob now looked like, however he was the only man striding through the airport with a rose clenched in his teeth! On the drive to St. Augustine, he suddenly said he had to pull over, which he then did, and went behind the car---you can imagine what I was thinking (!)--- and returned with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. By the end of the sailing trip, Bob and I knew we wanted to have a life together. Below is the invitation I wrote to our engagement party, held in Boulder. I moved to Bob’s home in Sarasota to begin our new life together. Unfortunately, what seemed meant-to-be, was not, and within a few months, we parted amicably. We eventually lost touch; I didn’t know of his passing until I read the “In Memoriam” section of this website. I remember him with great fondness.

Here is the engagement party invitation, written the summer of 1991: (It begins with our grade school days.)

“You’re Invited To Join Us!

    But first a word about us…

There once was a young girl named Kathy,

full of life and enthusiasm, not apathy.

                  She met a boy, Bob,

       her heart he wanted to rob,

but, a nickname he coined her brought catastrophe.


McCall be the surname she was given,

To “McQuack” did Bob change it of an evenin’.

                  How quick it caught on,

         All their friends did respond.

It was as “Quackie”, not Kathy, she was now livin’.


Now Bob tried his best to impress her

every evening over the telephone wire.

                  He told riddles and rhymes,

             funny stories sublime,

but alas, it was romance she was after.


So their paths they would be diverging,

into different people they were slowly emerging.

                  He went to the sea,

        she married and had family,

unaware their paths would again be converging.


Many years did pass by in their living,

varied experiences did they have for their teaching.

                  Good times and bad,

           some happy, some sad;

they learned of life, themselves and God’s meaning.


It is now three long decades later,

Bob in Florida calls Kathy in Boulder.

                  They laugh and reminisce---

         is this the person they never kissed?

Though the jokes are same old, it’s a new person they discover.


A process continues, a journey begins;

Their paths come together---it’s Destiny’s whim.

                  She finds all she’s ever sought,

      he knows it’s to this he’s been brought.

They will marry, their lives to share, forever, again.”


06/23/14 03:21 PM #2    

Chip Webster

I’ve enjoyed catching up with everyone virtually can’t wait to do it in person.

A few weeks ago I spent some time in Lake Forest on business and had some free time. I was lucky to catch Ron & Judy Boggs when they were in town. We had a great dinner. Having friends like them is a gift. Thanks to Mickey Johnston in 1984, who pulled some of us together for what has become an annual boys trip I’ve stayed connected to Lake Forest / Lake Bluff and had my friendships have grown deeper.

My visit brought back memories of a journey that changed the direction of my life for the better. Pulled up by my California roots two weeks before my senior year, was dramatic to a 17 year old who thought Palm Springs was the center of the universe.  After driving across the desert over the Rockies and through the planes. I exited 41 and drove down Deerpath for the first time, I felt at home.  I arrived a Desert Rat in a Preppy Forest. You guys; dressed funny, talked funny and acted strange.  You were nice, cared about going to class and getting into college and I learned why the Midwest is so special, the people. You made me feel at home. Chip Hixson led the way. He included me in everything as if I had grown up with all of you. I miss him. I made lifelong friends who I cherish so much.  And, I became a “preppy” with Midwestern roots.

I was the last one of us to see Bob Manning alive. He was in the VA hospital 20 minutes from my home. We spent several times together. On the Saturday before he passed we had a long discussion about life and death.  He was at peace and ready to go. They had turned off his pace maker and defibrillator, he knew what was next for him.  Bob had a huge impact on my life. He taught me to sail. His love of boating was contagious.  He, Randy Holt (another classmate I miss terribly), and Wendy Thomas commuted to Kendall College together. We had so much fun. Later I saw Bob on boats in Florida from time to time.  His passion fueled my imagination, and I have enjoyed boating ever since.  And, oh yes Bob and I got kicked out of Sunday school because we couldn’t stop laughing.

PS. he died at the Bay Pines VA Hospital in St Petersburg FL not in Alabama.

(With apologies to all my English teachers)

Chip Webster "AKA, California, Alex and Flakey"

go to top 
  Post Comment