Beloved Brevard Educator and Philanthropist Dr. Pat Manning Passes Away at 91
By Maria Sonnenberg // June 15, 2020
Recognized by Space Coast Medicine Magazine by as a Space Coast Humanitarian in 2010
When Dr. Pat Manning was a young wife and mother, she was in charge of the care of 25,000 chickens at the family farm located in that once little town called Brandon, now a bustling suburb of Tampa.
Manning still jokes that being a chicken farmer and cleaning all those chicken coops gave her an edge on coping with what life would throw her way later.
“I’m used to shoveling chicken poop,” she said. “With life, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do, too.”
Manning went on to earn a Ph.D. in education and enjoy a brilliant career that would take her around the world.
She would also become a formidable force for good in Brevard, with such a well-earned reputation to get things done that a street in Titusville, her favorite town, was named in her honor.
The Space Coast lost one of its best when Manning passed away May 26 at age 91.
Born in Indiana, Manning was a civilian version of an Army brat, since her father’s job required the family to move repeatedly as he traveled across the country.
“I went to four different high schools,” she said.
Chicken farming was fine, but Manning wanted more, so she headed to higher education.
“When my daughter enrolled in the first grade, I went to school,” said Manning. Breezing through the University of Tampa in two years, she earned her master’s degree from the University of Florida and her doctorate from Nova University.
In the 1970s, after a stint at Mims Elementary and Parkway Junior High School, Manning began teaching at Florida Technological University, a precursor to the University of Central Florida.
“The campus was still in a rural area with horses, cows and open range,” she said.
“I’d take Hwy. 50 to work. The road had wooden bridges that every so often vandals would burn down.”
UCF, with 60,000 students, is now the second-largest university in the country. In her long career with UCF, Manning began as an instructor and retired in 1998 as professor emeritus, after publishing countless articles and books and lecturing in far-flung locations from Australia to Europe.
She was one of the first educators to pass through the “Bamboo Curtain” and lecture in China.
Manning credited her husband, Dr. John Manning, for helping her discover Titusville. John’s work in the Apollo and Gemini program made Titusville a very convenient base for the couple.
It was also John who encouraged her to join the board of directors at Parrish Medical Center, where she served for more than a decade.
During her tenure, Manning Parrish’s Health Village, the first healthcare facility to combine an evidence-based healing environment with historic preservation, was created.
Three local 19th-century homes were relocated and restored to serve as keystones to the village. For Manning, going into one of the houses was very familiar.
“When I was teaching in Mims, one of my students lived in the house and I used to go there to sit and talk with the parents,” she said.
Because both of her parents suffered from Alzheimer’s, Manning was instrumental in helping the Alzheimer’s Foundation launch a Joe’s Club to help Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
For her efforts, the street in front of the facility was named Dr. Pat Manning Lane.
Coincidentally, Joe’s Club sits across the street from the old Parkway School where Manning once taught.
Another organization dear to Manning’s heart was the Moore Cultural Center, an educational organization that raises awareness about the true price of freedom . Stopping domestic violence was also an abiding passion, for she has witnessed first-hand how pervasive violence can be.
As a teacher in Mims, Manning became friends with a young teacher who would often arrive to work bruised. The woman was eventually murdered by her husband. As an instructor, one of Manning’s students suffered the same fate.
During her tenure on the board at Parrish Medical Center, a hospital employee was shot and killed by her husband.
To help women in abusive relationships, the City of Titusville and Parrish Medical Center united to help create a safe house operated by the Women’s Center. Manning was part of that important initiative.
She also served on the Brevard School Board and the board of Aging Matters in Brevard.
For her tireless volunteer and philanthropic contributions, and reaching out to so many in our community, she was recognized by Space Coast Daily as a Space Coast Humanitarian in 2010.
Thank you, Pat. We will miss you.
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