Richard Earl Manning was born on Monday, April 11, 1927, to Earl L. and Clara Biba Manning at Lutheran Hospital in York, Nebr. Dick passed away on October 13, 2011, at BryanLGH Medical Center East in Lincoln, Nebr., at the age of 84 years and 6 months.
Earl, Clara, Dick, and his younger brother Tom lived in Sawyer before Earl moved his elevator business, house, and barn to Burress in 1934. Dick ran the hobos off with all of his questions when they stopped by the Sawyer depot. He was always very inquisitive.
Dick attended rural school District 21 in Burress through the eighth grade. He and Tom scooped grain from the time they could handle a shovel. Dick was ten years old when the Burress dance hall was being built in 1937. Ignoring warnings, he fell from the scaffolding and broke his ankle in three places. He later spent many hours helping maintain the beech dance floor and doing other jobs for the dances played by regional bands in Burress. The last dance was on July 4, 1949.
Dick was baptized in the Exeter Methodist Church on April 1, 1934, and confirmed there on April 9, 1939, by Rev. Samuel Beechner. His future wife, Louisa Schwab, was in that same class.
While attending Exeter High School, Dick placed third in the mile at the 1941 or 1942 state track meet. He and Louisa graduated with the class of 1944. Their first date was on Febr. 11, 1942, when Dick walked Louisa to her Grandma Louisa Myers’ house after the first Exeter Feeders’ Day banquet that her sophomore home economics class had served.
Dick attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln for one year, taking engineering courses, before enlisting in the Navy just before turning 18. It was then that Dick’s birth certificate was found to incorrectly show his birth date as April 12. It was never corrected before his mother passed away in 1954, and so his legal documents and tombstone show that date.
Dick gave Louisa his Delta Omega Phi fraternity pin when he left for the Great Lakes Naval Training Station for boot camp on May 25, 1945. He bought her engagement ring for $55 at the base commissary in San Diego and proposed at Capitol Beach in Lincoln while on leave on March 24, 1946. Following an honorable discharge from the Navy in August 1946, Dick enjoyed taking business classes at the Lincoln School of Commerce before returning to Burress to work with his father and brother at Manning Grain Company on January 1, 1947.
Dick and Louisa were married on Fri., Nov. 14, 1947, at the Exeter Methodist Church in an 8:00 p.m. ceremony officiated by Rev. L. A. Fishel. This was Dick’s parents’ 22nd anniversary. The charivari dance poster showed that The Bobby Mills Orchestra played, and their first dance was to (“I’ll Be Loving You) Always.” Louisa never removed the wedding ring from her finger. They must have decided that the marriage was going to last because they finally bought Dick a wedding ring when they were in Las Vegas in 2007.
The couple lived on the Abbott place east of the Fairmont Airbase without electricity, plumbing, or telephone. They moved into Dick’s parents’ former home in Burress on Nov. 13, 1953, and then into the house they built in the east “suburbs” of Burress on May 16, 1960. Dick planted an extensive windbreak of trees there and was presented with a tree-planting award by the Nebraska Centennial Commission in 1967.
Dick had started farming part time in 1948 with a little Ford “outfit” (tractor) and became self-employed in farming on Jan. 1, 1964. He loved the land and was a good steward of the soil. He could often be seen cutting weeds in the fields. He enjoyed hunting for wild flowers and asparagus along rural Fillmore County roads. By the time Dick retired in 2005, he said he had spent over 50 years driving a half mile and then back, and learning how to drive in a straight line for the corn rows!
Dick got his private pilot’s license in 1957. He was a member of the Nebraska and International Flying Farmers and enjoyed taking his family to fly-ins on Sundays around the state. He also flew family members to Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; Las Vegas; and other places. Some of these trips made for interesting stories. He last renewed his license for this 70th birthday.
Dick was a good provider for, and very generous with, his family. He was organized, systematic, neat, and a hard worker. He was a list maker and a record keeper—a real detail person. Dick carried index cards to be able to write down anything of interest in his distinctive handwriting style. He was smart and instilled business sense into each of his children. He was thrifty and very innovative in finding unique ways to use or fix things or to make them work better. Many of these included used containers of all types or rubber bands.
Dick enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren how to play poker and casino games. He especially enjoyed trips to Las Vegas starting in 1966 and also to the casinos in Council Bluffs in later years.
Dick was recognized for his 65-year membership in the Exeter William Sullivan Post #218 of the American Legion in 2011. He was commander in 1967. He was a member of the Rural Fire Board for 37 years, serving as chairman for many years. Dick was Madison Township treasurer for several years and was a charter member of the Friend Country Club. He was president of the administrative board of the Exeter church for many years and received his 50-year membership pin there in 1989.
Since moving into their new home at 1022 J St. in Geneva in March 1992, Dick had been a member of the Lions International and enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels with Louisa. They established the Richard and Louisa Manning Scholarship Fund in 2008 to benefit Exeter-Milligan and Fillmore Central graduates attending a University of Nebraska school. They also made gifts in 2009 to the Nebraska and Exeter Area Community Foundations. Dick and Louisa deeply cared about the community in which they had lived their entire lives.
In later years, Louisa and Dick continued to enjoy their new home, traveling widely, attending their grandchildren’s activities and events, their computer, flowers, and garden. Dick could be seen walking or riding his bike in the neighborhood and to have coffee with his pals. He also enjoyed his poker buddies and trading stocks online until shortly before his death.
Dick and Louisa celebrated their 50th anniversary on Nov. 9, 1997, with a buffet dinner at Chances R restaurant in York, their 55th with a renewal of vows at the Exeter Methodist Church and their 60th anniversary and 80th birthdays with an open house buffet at Stone Creek in McCool Junction on Nov. 17, 2007.
Dick never regained his strength following open-heart surgery on October 26, 2010. On September 2, 2011, they moved from their home in Geneva to the Legacy Terrace Retirement Community in Lincoln where Dick enjoyed playing his final poker games and getting to know his new neighbors as best as his health allowed.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents. He leaves to cherish memories and gratitude for his life his wife, Louisa; children Jim, of Lincoln; Mary Jane and Ken Havick, of Omaha; Margie and Chris Hayes, of Osceola; Scott and Roxanne, of McKinney, Tex.; and Don and Joan, of Burress. Their eleven grandchildren, all pallbearers, are Leslie (Pat) Huggins, Kirk (Lisa) Havick, Jena (Jeff) Depue, Amy (Justin) Mollak, Austin Hayes, Kara Havick, Rachel Manning, Landon Hayes, Shane Manning, and Megan and Madeline Manning. Also his brother Tom (Marilyn) Manning and many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
A Celebration of Life Service was held at the Exeter United Methodist Church at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 17, with Pastors Ron Harris and Ray Underwood officiating. Delores Bailey played “Always” as the processional and “Anchors Aweigh” as the recessional. Pat Sudrla accompanied herself on guitar in the singing of “On Eagles’ Wings,” and “Hymn Of Promise.”
Pallbearers were Leslie & Pat Huggins, Kirk & Lisa Havick, Jena & Jeff Depue, Amy & Justin Mollak, Austin Hayes, Kara Havick, Rachel Manning, Landon Hayes, Shane Manning, Megan Manning, and Madeline Manning.
Burial was in the Exeter Cemetery with Farmer & Son Funeral Home in charge of the arrangements. The family requested that memorials be directed to the Exeter United Methodist Church, the Geneva United Methodist Church, the Exeter Legion Auxiliary, and the Exeter Area Community Foundation Fund.