John Stephen Manning passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016,while playing golf with his son. Which, as anyone who knew John will attest, is almost exactly how he would have wanted it, though not so soon.
John was born on Jan. 2, 1953, in Billings, where he grew up and spent nearly all his life. He attended the Billings Catholic schools and graduated from Billings Central in 1971, where he was a standout athlete in football, golf and basketball. Among his many accomplishments, he especially liked that he was future-NFL Coach Dennis Erickson’s first quarterback. John attended college at the University of Montana and Montana State University, graduating from Montana State with a degree in zoology in 1977 (make no mistake, he was a Cat, not a Griz). He started his career in the printing business, first at Deluxe Check Printers and later at Comtex, before moving to the credit card processing industry with i_Tech Corporation and Fiserv.
Above all, John was a family man. Nothing mattered more to him. He married his wife, Robin, in 1977, and loved her dearly for more than 38 years. She truly completed him and he was the first to admit it. He was fiercely proud of his children, Michael, Molly and Kevin, and devoted his life to ensuring that theirs were easier than his. He succeeded in spades. In recent years, he turned to doting on his five grandchildren, all who knew that he liked to tease and hug just about equally.
John was also a true lover of tradition. He lived in the same house where he grew up and his grandson now sleeps in the same bunk beds he shared with his brothers almost 60 years ago. Heaven help you if you tried to change the recipe for stuffing at Thanksgiving. Yellowstone Park was his favorite vacation spot, most often on Memorial Day Weekend or October (usually both), but he couldn’t stop talking about the snow coach to Old Faithful in mid-winter either. His hobby was indisputably golf, and he would have played every day if life had allowed. His best round was a 68 in the club championship at Yellowstone Country Club — still the best in the family. Notre Dame football was a long-held passion that John took from his childhood and gladly passed on to the next generation. He wasn’t always optimistic about the Irish’s chances of winning, but it certainly made his day when they did. And at the end of a long day, there was little John enjoyed more than sitting on a patio somewhere — though most often his own — sipping a Jameson with family and friends.
John will be desperately missed by everyone close to him, but most of all by his family. He was preceded in death by his father, Philip, and his mother, Teresa. He is survived by his wife, Robin Manning; his children, Michael Manning (Sabrina), Molly Fettig (Matt) and Kevin Manning (Brittany); his five grandchildren, Emmett and Soren Manning, Madelyn and Weston Fettig, and Levi Manning; his siblings, Phylis Adler, Don Manning (Georgia), Michael Manning and Thomas Manning (Christine); as well as a host of nieces, nephews and other extended family. We will all love him forever.
Vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday, March 4, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 2055 Woody Drive. Rite of committal will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.