From alum to advancement: friends, family, coworkers remember Ronald Manning

Category:  News
Friday, September 27th, 2019 at 11:20 AM

Always smiling, friendly and showing a genuine interest in those around him, the memory of Ronald Manning continues to live on and make an impact at Edinboro University and beyond.

Manning died this past summer at 57 years old.

A dedication to family was coupled with his work at EU, including as the assistant director of development research and records management.

“Ron was a database wizard, and it was his job to keep track of over 60,000 Edinboro alumni and friends. He was patient and considerate, always working to enhance our alumni outreach. He was also a great researcher — he could locate almost any alumni using the internet and his analytical skills,” said Marilyn Goellner, vice president for advancement.

An alumnus who earned his Bachelor of Science in computer science degree through Edinboro in 1987, he was hired by the university shortly after. While an undergrad, he won the Charlotte W. Newcombe scholarship. According to the Newcombe Foundation website, the scholarship helps support “completion of degrees by students with disabilities.” He was also an academic aid coordinator for what is now the Office for Accessibility Services (OAS) in his time as a student at Edinboro.

Manning always maintained a positive attitude and didn’t let the accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down interrupt his passions.

According to the obituary by Glunt Funeral Home and Crematory, the New York native was a lifetime member of the Hanover Fish and Game Club and “enjoyed roaming the neighborhood in search of any project that would benefit from his supervision.”

This last note was a quality that Jenny Norton also touched on, who currently occupies a position Manning once held at EU as manager of advancement data, systems and analytics. Norton met him in 1989 during her freshman year and started working with him through the Alumni House in 2002.

She stated they “worked very closely for many years,” and that he taught her everything she knows about data management.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Ron. I miss him every day but feel his strength guiding me through difficult projects,” she said in an email.“We are better people for having known Ron.”

Amanda Brown Sissem, director of alumni engagement at the campus, described him as “a dear colleague, proud EU alumnus and friend to the EU alumni network.” She continued on to state that, “he took great pride in stewarding our alumni database and was known to seek out EU alumni wherever he traveled.”

Goellner said simply, “The Edinboro University advancement division will never be the same.”

Manning loved his dogs, enjoyed bowling, worked with others on building furniture from wood pallets, and developed friendships over the years with Edinboro students and his personal care attendants.

Friends Brian and Beth Gustafson also shared their thoughts and memories.

Brian Gustafson met Manning in a hospital after they had both had spinal cord injuries and “hit it off” from then on; they supported each other through their journeys and shared several common interests, one of them being any machine with an engine.

“He made you want to be around him without even trying,” said Gustafson.

“Patient, kind, creative, problem solver” is how Beth Gustafson described him.

“He realized that no matter how challenging his circumstances were, he was fortunate to have overcome and been better because of them,” his wife of 30 years, Deborah, told The Spectator. “He touched so many people’s lives in a special way for each.”

His sister Jan, through text, shared a saying that he lived by: “Step up and do the right thing or get out of the way so I can!” She also said that they would always talk about NASCAR.

He loved his job and was “such a big teacher in his own way,” especially with his care attendants, according to Jan. She then shared some special memories, such as his first day of college, for which his mindset was “ready, but a little nervous.”

In Goellner’s words: “He was a thoughtful man — slow to anger and always offering his assistance to the team. He was a kind soul, [and] despite the many challenges he faced on a daily basis, he never complained. Ron left his mark on Edinboro University and will be missed.”

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