MOUNT PLEASANT - Mount Pleasant Trustee Harry Manning died early Thursday morning, due to complications from ALS.
Manning, who had served in Korea, died at the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, according to family.
In the last few months Manning, age 72, had been struggling with ALS, said fellow Trustee John Hewitt. But a week ago, Hewitt stopped by his house to drop off some paperwork and Manning “still had his sense of humor.”
Manning had an MBA degree and during his career he held marketing managerial positions at Walker Manufacturing in Racine and Amsterdam. After taking early retirement he continued consulting and teaching at a local college.
In 2008 he was elected to the Mount Pleasant Village Board and fellow Trustee Gary Feest said Manning always came well prepared to meetings and was a wealth of knowledge.
“I learned more from Harry about being a board member than I learned from any other source,” Feest said.
Son John Steiner-Manning said serving as trustee is often “thankless” but was important to his father who “really wanted to contribute to making the local community as great as it could be.”
Aside from his professional endeavors, Manning raced Mazda Miatas even into his 70s.
He raced against 20 year-olds and didn’t retire from racing until last summer, said Andrea Steiner-Manning, Manning’s daughter-in-law.
“He was very good,” she said, and the facts back her up. As recently as May 2010, Journal Times archives show he opened that racing reason – his 16th season of racing – with second- and third-place finishes. He had a qualifying speed of 81 mph for both races.
And in a 1995 story, long before Manning was a trustee, he admitted, then, that he was one of the oldest drivers racing and that he had a late start in the sport in his 50s. But the story goes on to say, “the native of Decorah, Iowa could never forget the freedom of growing up on a farm and just taking off on a gravel road with his car.”
Steiner-Manning said that racing for his father was about speed and competition. But most of all “he liked being the winner.”
His final race came last summer in South Haven, Mich., his son said.
Manning was also a licensed pilot who flew four-seater airplanes. His son remembers trips down to Rockford, Ill. for lunch so his father could get in his flying time.
Steiner-Manning also recalled a longer trip back in 1976 with his father behind the wheel of a conversion van he specially equipped for a family vacation to Alaska.
Several Mount Pleasant trustee seats are up for election next week on April 2, but Hewitt said it’s too late to fill Manning’s position in that election. The board will have to look at options to fill the position, Hewitt said, likely either through an appointment or a special election. Manning’s seat was not up for election until next April.
Interim Village Administrator Tim Zarzecki said he knew Manning was in poor health but was surprised by his death. He indicated he would work with the Village Board over the coming weeks on how to fill the position. Right now, the most important thing is to assist the family in any way possible, he said.
ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Manning, an active member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, was married to Mary Manning and had two children; son John and daughter Wendy Manning.
The family was still working on funeral arrangements and nothing final had been set yet as of Thursday afternoon, family said.
Luke Feuerherm contributed to this article