George Edwin Manning, 71, of Keosauqua, peacefully passed away on Friday, November 18th, surrounded by his beloved family and close friends.
He was born April 10th, 1951, in Keosauqua, to John Albert and Evelyn (Trink) Ovrom Manning. He was one of the first babies born at the new Van Buren County Hospital, the fourth of seven children and the cutest little black-haired boy you’d ever see. His family also had a foreign exchange student from Vietnam in 1965-1966, the first in Van Buren County.
The Manning siblings enjoyed a Norman Rockwell-esque 1950s childhood. They grew up in a neighborhood full of kids by the Keosauqua Post Office and later in the big yellow house beside the Van Buren High School. It was in the yellow house that George spent his teenage years, somehow managing to be late to school on a regular basis. The memories of their years in that house are endless, not just for the family but for their many friends.
While in high school George met his future wife, Ona Kathleen (Kathy) Kerr, a transplant from Tennessee. The Kerr family ran what was then known as the Van Buren County Care Facility, and over the years resided there as well as in a large farmhouse near the Douds area river road. Each of these places also became a big part of his life, and legend has it there was a time or two that George hiked the route from town to the County Home to see his gal. They were married on June 14th, 1972 and celebrated their 50th anniversary this year.
Soon after marriage George and Kathy became the parents of three daughters, Maggie in 1975, Katie in 1979, and Beth in 1982. They raised them in Keosauqua, an upbringing they all hold near to their hearts. Growing up with George meant gaining an unintentional expertise in his favorite music, especially The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. If you were a friend of the girls, you were a victim of this by default and likely think of him to this day if you catch any of their songs on the radio.
In 1979 George began working at the family bank, then known as Farmers State Bank. During that time, he worked in every area, eventually becoming the bank president, a role he would retire from after dedicating 41 years to the business. It was over this time that George acquired even more friends in both colleagues and customers. Friendship was a central theme of George’s wonderful life, as he never knew a stranger, and often (much to his family’s dismay) he gave any amount of time needed to spend talking with someone, regardless of the family schedule.
If anyone was dedicated to where they lived, it was George. Over the course of his life he was in some way involved with the Riverview Club, Van Buren County Foundation, Indian Hills Community College Board of Trustees, Van Buren County Hospital Board of Trustees, Bruce Rex Vale Foundation, Keosauqua City Council, Van Buren Telephone Board, Keosauqua Rotary, Birmingham Lions Club, Villages of Van Buren County, Keosauqua Chamber of Commerce, Indian Hills Community College Foundation, Keosauqua Light & Power Board, Purdom Cemetery Board, and probably many more that we have forgotten. He and his brother John were named Keosauqua Citizens of the Year in 2011 and he received the Indian Hills Community College Dr. Jim Lindenmeyer Award for Exceptional Leadership in 2019. He even had a brief run as the mayor of Keosauqua. George took tremendous pride in his community, and the love he’s been shown during his illness made it clear he was loved right back.
George was one of a kind. His easygoing personality, loving nature and infectious laugh were what drew people to him. His favorite pastimes included listening to music, reading every free minute he had, watching the Iowa Hawkeyes and St. Louis Cardinals, and especially golfing. He was thrilled to play the Pebble Beach golf course in California in 2021. Bucket list item, checked.
Above and beyond all his accomplishments, world travels, and the countless friends he made over the years, George’s greatest love was his family, especially his seven grandchildren. He adored them all and loved nothing more than being present at as many of their events as he possibly could. He relished watching them grow up and being able to be there for all of their individual successes. If you ever find yourself watching one of them perform or compete, give a little cheer in his memory.
Preceding George are his parents, John and Trink Manning, and older sister, Ann Manning.
Remaining to carry on his memory are his wife, Kathy, daughters Maggie (Josh) Cocherell of Keosauqua, Katie Nichols of Keosauqua, Beth (Barry) Fulton of McCall, Idaho, and his best friend since childhood, Doug (Delilah) Archibald of Naples, Florida. His most favorite kids, Will Cocherell, Maddie Cocherell, Joey Nichols, Ben Cocherell, Scarlet Nichols, Jay Fulton & Georgia Fulton. His AFS daughters and their families, Elly Biffi of Como, Italy and Barbara Graf of Zurich, Switzerland. His siblings, John (Lynn) and Matt (Judy) of Keosauqua, David (Janet) of Austin, TX, Ab (Kim) of Lansing, Michigan, Liz Edwards of Bettendorf, Mai (Ham) Nguyen of Boca Raton, Florida, and their families. His Aunt, Betty Perkins of Keosauqua, Close lifelong friend John (Peggy) Brothers of Columbia, Missouri and his loyal golfing buddies (Terry, Jeff, Jake & Dave) all of whom likely still owe him money. He also leaves at home his 20-something four-legged daughter, Tipper the cat. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Kathy and his variety of past animal children, especially Max the yellow lab of Laplander’s fame and Moda the mutt, Van Buren High School’s unofficial mascot.
Services will be held at 2pm on Tuesday, November 22nd at the Methodist Church in Keosauqua with Rev. Herbert Shafer and Pastor Mary Kathryn Hart officiating. Burial will follow at Purdom Cemetery in Keosauqua, and we will gather for a Celebration of Life at Hotel Manning in Keosauqua that night starting at 4pm. If you are unable to attend, and even if you are, the family requests that anyone willing to share George stories for a future keepsake email them to [email protected] Online condolences can also be shared at www.cranstonfamilyfuneralhome.com.
For anyone interested in donating to a memorial in George’s name, they can be directed to the Van Buren Foundation or Indian Hills Community College Foundation for future scholarship purposes, or to the George Manning Memorial for gifts to be determined at a later time, to P.O. Box 554, Keosauqua, IA 52565. Equally as important as carrying on his legacy in financial giving, is carrying it on by treating everyone with patience and kindness just like he did. We hope you’ll consider performing an unexpected act of kindness in his name someday. Our hearts are broken, but we know he left our community and this world a better place.