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James E. Manion II, 86, government employee

James E. Manion II, a longtime government employee who lived in Temple Hills for 40 years, died May 28 at Southern Maryland Hospital in Clinton due to respiratory problems he had battled since he was a child. He was 86.

Born in Henderson, Ky., Mr. Manion and his father had laid out a 10-year plan for him that included college, law school and, ultimately, federal employment, but the death of his father when he 19 forced him to leave St. Joseph”s College in Collegeville, Ind., for lack of money.

Though he was a licensed pilot, Mr. Manion failed the physical for the Army Air Corps. He worked as an accountant in the 1940s before going to work in the Comptroller’s Office of the Department of the Army, serving as a management analyst and efficiency specialist in Austria until its unification in 1955, in Germany through 1964 and in the District until his retirement in 1982.

Because he suffered from severe asthma for which treatment was not then available, some of his family members doubted he would live to be 30, and thus it would be wasteful to educate him. However, Mr. Manion paid for his own education and graduated with honors from George Washington University in 1973.

Mr. Manion was then working full time for the federal government and serving as president of the Crossland High School PTA and his Temple Hills neighborhood homeowners association.

Mr. Manion shared a birthday with former President Ronald Reagan and was himself a political maverick. Though friends think he usually voted Republican in general elections, he registered as a Democrat so he could help pick the easiest opponent for the Republicans’ candidates.

Mr. Manion read The Washington Post and The Washington Times daily, cover to cover, saying he read the former “to keep an eye on the liberals” and the latter for “the right stuff,” recalled his daughter, Chere Schoning. After completing the crossword puzzles, he refolded the papers neatly for recycling, she said.

Mr. Manion was preceded in death by his wife Mary Louise Manion.

Survivors include three daughters, Chere Schoning of Sacramento, Calif., Michele Roode of Laytonsville and Kay Charles of Alexandria; a son, J.E. Manion III of Lothian, Md.; a sister, Patricia Lewis of Jacksonville, N.C.; and four grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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