Robert J. Manning

MASSENA — Robert J. Manning, 81, of East Hatfield Street, Massena passed away peacefully early Thursday morning, Sept. 28, 2017, at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Ogdensburg, surrounded by his loving family.

Robert was the oldest of five children, two boys and three girls of John R. and Rosalie (King) Manning. He was very grateful to his parents for giving him life and then making that life better. He thanks his brothers and sisters for giving him such good, loving company. His mother, besides being a very dedicated and sacrificing mother and wife instilled in him a lifelong value to religion and education. His father, a carpenter, taught him a few skills and a love of the Adirondacks. This included fishing, hunting and enjoying the serenity of nature in the woods and or the waterways of the mountains. Among his happiest times as a boy were with the Boy Scouts of American where he achieved Eagle Scout and Ad Altare Dei religious award.

He graduated from Tupper Lake High School in 1954. His fellow students elected him as president of the senior class. They continued to inspire him the rest of his life. Following graduation he enrolled at Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg and began studies for the priesthood. He completed his studies at Christ the King Seminary, St. Bonaventure. In 1962, he was ordained as a Catholic Priest by Bishop James J. Navagh of Ogdensburg. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from St. Bonaventure University. Following ordination he served as assistant pastor at Notre Dame Church in Ogdensburg, St. Mary’s Churches in Massena and Champlain and St. Joseph’s churches in Massena and Malone. In addition to pastoral duties he taught Latin, Social Studies and history at Holy Family High Schools in Massena and Champlain. He loved his students, whom have continued to be a pride and joy to him throughout his life. In 1966 he received a Master of Science in secondary Social Studies Education from State University in Potsdam.

In 1972, the late Bishop Stanislaus J. Bryzana released him to join the U.S. Navy. He served with the Third Marine Division in Olawana; Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; Naval Regional Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina; W.S. Naval Activity, London, England; Marine Corps Training Center, Trinity Palms, California; U.S. Coast Guard, Governor Island, N.Y.; and the Naval Engineering Center, Lake Hurst, New Jersey.

Thanks to his mother’s inspiration he saved every opportunity to advance his education. In 1978 he earned a Master of Arts in Human Relations and Management for Pepperdine University. In 1991 he received a Doctorate in Ministry from the Ecumenical Unions, South Bend, Indiana. He took several courses in priestly formation at Seton Hall University, Newark, New Jersey. Following his retirement from the Navy in 1992 he earned a Master of Arts in Spirituality from Duquesne University, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Returning to the Diocese of Ogdensburg in 1993, he was assigned instructor then professor of history and theology at Wadhams Hall College in Ogdensburg. In 1995, he resigned from the college.

He requested and received a dispensation from his obligation from the priesthood from Pope John Paul II in 1996. He then married the most beautiful woman he ever saw, Mary White Rainville at St. Viator’s Catholic Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. Together they traveled extensively including Italy and the Holy Land. She continues to be beautiful and loveable to this very day.

Robert is survived by his loving wife Mary and a step-son, Steven Rainville of Massena. He is also survived by a sister Barbara and Henry Crouse and brother Jerry and Linda Manning. He is grateful to his brothers and sisters for giving him such great loving company while he was growing up.

He was predeceased by his parents, and two sisters: Carole and Frances.

When Robert told his father that he intended to swim across the English Channel he said “You’re crazy.” When he told his mother his intentions she said, “You can do it.” As it turned out the feast of St. Bartholomew, Aug. 24, 1984, they were both right. That year he won a trophy from the Channel Swimming Association for the longest swim that year from France to England, 18 hours, 15 minutes.

One of his greatest friends in life was Rosemary Franklin-George, a two-time swimmer of the Channel. Rosemary was his selfless trainer and fantastic friend. Her help enabled him to make the swim. Robert would like to thank Rosemary and thanks to their dear friend, Monsour Badaive.

Robert is grateful to so many people who enriched his life: Bishops Bazyome, Loverde and LaValley and countless priests. Mother Mary Eamon, Sister Mary Christine, the Brenon Sisters and the sisters of St. Joseph, who have been such wonderful and holy cheerleaders on his journey toward heaven. Thank you Pat Fee and so many wonderful friends. Thank you everyone. Thank you God for everyone and everything. Good Bye! I hope to see you all later. Special thanks to Archbishop Dirvino for sharing his favorite parish with me.

Calling hours will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at Phillips Memorial Home in Massena. A funeral mass for Robert will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday Oct. 2, at the Church of the Sacred Heart with the Rev. Mark R. Reilly presiding. Interment will be held in St. Alphonsus Cemetery, Tupper Lake.

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