Remembering Marta Manning

posted Jan 22, 2019, 11:54 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Jan 23, 2019, 11:05 AM ]

Wake/Vigil Service & Funeral Mass

There will be a Wake/Vigil service on Sunday, January 27 at 6 p.m. aStumpff Funeral Home at 1600 SE Washington Blvd in Bartlesville.

A Funeral Mass will be conducted on Monday, January 28 at 11 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church at 5500 Douglas Lane in Bartlesville.

The Bartlesville Public School District has lost one of its long-time champions. Marta Manning, who served on the Bartlesville Board of Education for 20 years from 1991-2011, passed away on January 22, 2019. Superintendent Chuck McCauley stated, “Marta Manning was one of those people who make Bartlesville a special place. Our entire community benefited from her years of service.”

Manning literally heard the call to run for the Bartlesville Board of Education in 1990, as Debbie Benbrook, the Bartlesville mayor at the time, yelled to her while passing in a parade. Manning, who eventually saw all six of her children graduate from the BPSD, took the drive-by advice. She began attending school board meetings faithfully – to educate herself as to how they operated – and eventually threw her hat in the ring. She was elected in 1991.

While Benbrook’s encouragement helped, what really brought Manning to the board was a burning desire to save Central Middle School. The historic building had fallen into disrepair and some in the community were calling for it to be demolished. Manning thought the building could be renovated and saved, and she fought passionately for the cause.

Manning was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, soon after joining the board. The mother of five sons and a daughter, she still had four kids at home at the time. After a lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy, she went on to serve two decades on the board. Years later, she remarked, “I tell people it’s not necessarily the end of the world. They may live another 25 years or more.”

Manning’s indomitable spirit helped lead to Central being refurbished in 1995, with many considering it a showpiece in the community as both a bustling school and a landmark. The community again re-invested in Central with another renovation and expansion funded by a 2013 bond issue and updates to its auditorium in 2018. Manning's championship of Central had lasting effects, but as she remarked after the initial refurbishment of Central, “I soon realized that there was a lot more to being on the school board than just saving Central.”

During her time on the board, Manning held all three officer roles – clerk, vice president, and president – including the latter title from 2008 until her retirement. She served on a wide array of board committees. And just when it seemed she couldn’t possibly offer any more of herself, Manning would be seen on the board of the Washington County School Supply Drive, at meetings of the Academic Interest & Mentoring Society, and as a “grandparent friend” at Oak Park Elementary School. That was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to her volunteer efforts, yet she was still a staple at sporting events and fine arts activities as well, always cheering on the Bruins.

Vanessa Drummond, who replaced Manning on the board, commented at the time, “Marta has been an inspiration for all of us. She has spent a huge part of her life dedicated to making our schools better for our children. I admire her so much for that.”

Admiration for Manning ran deep. In 2009, she was presented with the prestigious Buddy Spencer Leadership Award after being named as an all-state board member by the Oklahoma State School Board Association. During the BPSD’s annual Teacher of the Year Ceremony in February 2011, Manning was celebrated with the Bartlesville Education Association’s Friends of Education Award.

At her retirement reception in 2011, the room was filled to capacity with those who wanted to show their respect and admiration for Manning. Signs designed by students and teachers alike covered the walls, and the crowd included her husband Jim as well as her children and grandchildren. Manning was presented with an award from the district by Supt. Quinn, as well as one from the athletic department. In addition, a special citation for her distinguished service from the State of Oklahoma – made possible by Sen. John Ford and representatives Earl Sears and Steve Martin – was read aloud to the gathering before being presented to Manning. Dr. Gary W. Quinn, who was then in his twelfth year as superintendent, stated, “Marta has always focused on what is best for our students.”
“I’m a little overwhelmed by all of the support that I’ve received,” said Manning upon her retirement after serving with 34 fellow members over her 20-year span on the board of education. “I’ve always felt that I’ve been the one who has benefited most by the time I’ve been able to spend on the board. Hopefully, others have as well.”

A generation of students, parents, school staff, and board members were the recipients of Marta Manning's servant leadership. She will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
Marta Manning
Marta Manning, who served on the Bartlesville Board of Education from 1991-2011, passed away in January 2019