Louisa LaVonne (Schwab) Manning was born on September 4, 1927, to John Oran and Margaret Elizabeth (Myers) Schwab at her parents’ home two miles west of Exeter, Nebraska. She died at Heritage Crossings in Geneva on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at the age of 95 years, 9 months, and 16 days.
Her grandfather, Philip Schwab, homesteaded across the road in 1871. Some of the history of her Grandma Melissa Whitaker Schwab’s family is on the monument in front of the Fillmore County Courthouse.
When asked as a small child what her name was, Louisa said something that sounded like “Wee-wee,” and her Dad never called her anything else. Her favorite place was outside or being in the barn with her dog, “Ernie.” She continued to enjoy dogs all of her life.
Louisa attended rural school District 91 through the fourth grade and Exeter Public School where she graduated with the class of 1944. She enrolled in classes at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and pledged Alpha Gamma Delta as a sophomore.
Louisa took the bus to work at the Havelock Goodyear plant the summer of 1945 working to cover WWII B-24 bombers’ fuel tanks with seven layers of rubber to protect them from bullets. The tanks were bigger than caskets. She was a real “Rosie the Riveter!”
Louisa received her teaching certificate in 1946 and taught fourth grade in Sutton, Nebr. for one year. She had 20 students and remembered many of their names more than 70 years later. Louisa traveled to New York State the summer of 1947 to visit Schwab relatives and the graves of ancestors.
Louisa was baptized and confirmed by Rev. Samuel Beechner at the Exeter Methodist Church on April 9, 1939, in the same class as her future husband, Richard Manning. They were married in an 8:00 p.m. ceremony on Fri., November 14, 1947, at the church. A wedding dance followed in Burress on the snowy and sleety night.
The couple lived on the “Abbott” place east of the Fairmont Airfield without electricity, plumbing or telephone. They moved into Dick’s parents’ home next to the Manning Grain Company headquarters in Burress in Nov. 1953 and then into the house they built in the east “suburbs” of Burress in May 1960.
Louisa loved her home and family and enjoyed caring for their large garden and lawn, sewing, and canning. Her wedding memory album showed that her greatest ambition was “to be a good cook.” Dick said he taught Louisa how to make grilled cheese sandwiches, but it was noted that she baked her first pie, an apple, for her folks’ 30th anniversary three weeks after their wedding to serve with the rabbit that Dick had shot. Family and friends were beneficiaries of Louisa's great meals and baking: cloverleaf and cinnamon rolls, breads, kolaches, cookies, pies, and many angel food birthday cakes with seven-minute frosting. Her frozen sweet corn was priceless.
Louisa was a long-time member of the Exeter and Geneva UMW and American Legion Auxiliary Post #218, serving in various offices. She was a past member of the Exeter Women’s Club. Since building their home and moving to Geneva in March 1992, Louisa had volunteered for Save for American at the elementary school, at the Red Cross Bloodmobile, and at Heritage Crossings. Louisa and Dick enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels together. 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.
In later years, Louisa and Dick continued to enjoy their new home, computers, reading, tending their flowers and garden, and attending their grandchildren’s activities and events. They traveled extensively. Some of their trips were by small plane piloted by Dick, including to Las Vegas and Canada. Louisa and Dick celebrated their 50th anniversary on Nov. 9, 1997, with a buffet dinner at Chances R Restaurant in York and their 60th anniversary and 80th birthdays with an open house buffet at Stone Creek in McCool Junction on November 17, 2007.
Dick died on October 13, 2011, following surgery in October of 2010, and Louisa could no longer care for her home and yard. She moved just down “J” St. to her Heritage Crossings assisted-living apartment on June 10, 2013. Her dear friend there was Dick's cousin, Jim Biba. Louisa moved to skilled nursing on November 18, 2015.
Louisa was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Philip and Waverly (infant); husband, Richard; and daughter-in-law, Roxanne Manning.
She leaves to cherish memories and gratitude for her life her children Jim of Lincoln; Mary Jane (Ken) Havick of Omaha; Margie (Chris) Hayes of Osceola; Scott of Omaha, and Don (Joan), of Burress; eleven grandchildren Leslie (Pat) Huggins, Kirk (Elisha) Havick, Amy (Justin) Mollak, Kara (Brad) Geelan, Jena (Jeff) Depue, Austin and Landon (Jamie) Hayes, Megan and Madeline Manning, Rachel (Robert) Powell, Jr., and Shane Manning; fifteen great-grandchildren Brooks, Brynn, and Blake Havick, Nora, Levi, and Rio Depue, Elle, Luke, and Gavin Mollak, Maggie, Kora, and Kylie Geelan, Benjamin Powell, and Layla and Maxwell Hayes. Also surviving are many cherished nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and friends and neighbors, including members of the Burress Belles group.
Louisa's message to all who knew her: “Thanks for being a player in my life. I’ve been very lucky!”
Mark 14:8: “She has done what she could.”