In memory of
Peter Otto Manz
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In memory of
Peter Otto Manz
The Life of Peter Otto Manz Everybody loved Peter. I can't think of one soul who ever had anything bad to say about him. Even the telemarketers who'd call -- and he would sure give them a run for the money -- liked Peter. He was born January 26th, 1952 to Ruth and Paul, and older brothers John and Michael Manz. He was proud of his middle name Otto – also his father's middle name and his grandfather's first name – both men he revered immensely. As for his mother Ruth, he was a challenging child full of spunk from the get go – bright and full of whimsical energy, and stubborn. But also immensely tender hearted. The phrase "real men don't cry" did not apply to Peter at all. If something moved his heart in that tender direction he had no fear or shame in showing it. In 1955 his father acquired a Fulbright scholarship to study organ in Belgium with organ genius Flor Peeters. So at the of age three -- pre jet planes -- the family sailed to Europe, into the teeth of Hurricane Connie. Peter would tell stories of how exhilaratingly fun it was to be able to jump straight up and land 10 feet away with the pitch of the ship, and how everyone but him became sea sick. His fondest memories of living in Europe were going along with his father and napping on pews as he listened to him perform on the organ. He had every piece his father ever composed memorized. After returning to the U.S., his mother was his kindergarten teacher, as well as his second grade teacher – a horrible fate, according to Peter – made mischief making (or being a high energy boy) a terrible challenge. His older brothers, going before him through out the school years, he was often greeted by new teachers and principals with "oh, you're another Manz boy". One could guess that mischief making must have run in the family. In 1964 the Manz family grew from Ruth, Paul and three boys to seven siblings. Ruth's brother Herbert Mueller had died suddenly of a heart attack, and his wife Helene followed not long after. The obvious choice was to have the cousins John Herbert (then age 3), Sara (9), Anne (11) and Mary (14) join their family – Peter was 12, John Charles (14) and Michael (16). Thus began the tradition Peter referred to as "just blame it on me" – which he actually took pride in. Always the character. In High School he began playing football, against his parents' wishes. But he certainly had the tenacity for the game. Younger brother John tells a story of watching Peter run for the goal line carrying three guys on his back – determined to not let them break him. That spirited determination it turns out served him well in the years to follow. While playing football for Concordia College in Nebraska a hard tackle broke his back – his first back surgery, in 1972. His last back surgery was in 2009 – 15 all together over these years. And like the high school boy who carried three on his back to reach the goal – he mustered his way through all of these – determined to not let this defeat him. In his adult life he worked in the mental health field, except for a short stint working on a cattle ranch in Colorado for the Hattendorfs – where he quickly learned the meaning to the phrase "green horn". It takes a special kind of person to do intensive case management (working with the craziest of the craziest). Peter accepted people for who they were, as well as who they were not, and could put even the most paranoid of a schizophrenic person at ease…. until there was that one case, where a schizophrenic client in a rage took him to the ground – shattering his back, forcing him into retirement at age 40 after an intensive back surgery. He said it took him a good solid two years to make friends with this fate of retirement. During that transition he did volunteer work for Volunteers of America. This is Peter. Always helping if he could. A very stubborn and determined cuss, with a marshmallow heart. A man of integrity, a very good man, an honest and deeply loving human being, with great wit and sense of humor. In late July of 2003 he met the love of his life – the woman he patiently waited for, for 13 years of dedicated "I'm done with women" time. March 24th, 2004 he married Stephanie Cram. His father was his best man, his mother was the Maid of Honor. As the story goes, Peter and Stephanie eloped to Minnesota. It was to be a small affair, but word got out and the whole large Manz/Mueller clan showed up, along with soon to be step-daughter Katherine and Stephanie's sister Susan. Dear friends Carol and Alfred Taylor were also there (their friendship beginning back at Concordia College). Carol had asked Stephanie if it was overwhelming to meet such a large family clan and was told "they're wonderful people; you'd think in a family crowd this big there'd be at least one family member that stands out as the odd one". Carol's reply? – "Have you considered it's the one you're marrying?" Yes, they broke the mold with our dear Peter. He marched to his own drum – as the saying goes. A strong and determined, and gentle soul. Quick witted, he could make any one chuckle… "Did I ever tell you about the time that…" We will always remember his stories. Whom ever he loved – he loved deeply. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie Cram, step-daughter Katherine Cory, her husband Michael, his new grandson Dale and grandkids Jack and Katie Cory. His siblings -- John Manz and wife Ellen, Pat Manz (wife to Michael), Mary Bode, Anne Klinge and husband David, Sara Forsberg and husband Dale, John Mueller and partner Stefanie. Nieces and nephews Rachel and Rebekah Manz; David (God son), Erik and Rachael Manz; Erin Eftink (husband Dave), Jessica Hemmann (husband Scott) and Laura Wunderlich (and husband Paul); Sarah Selden (and her husband and Peter's friend, Dave); Anna and Peter Forsberg. Uncle Chuck Mueller and cousins. Step-son Mathew Edmonds (and wife Patty) and grand children Alex, Emily and Everett, and step-daughters Rachel and Sarah (and her partner Art). Nieces, Shannon and Heidi Cram, and nephews (friends) Ron Lee and Brad Hansen. Sister-in-laws Susan Swenson (and husband Craig), and Pam Lee. Ten great nieces and nephews, and one on the way. And his bestest of friends - Carol and Alfred Taylor (and his God son Ben Taylor), David Osborne, Philip and Jason Cappello, Carolyn Krieg (and husband Gene), Susan Shaffer, the Brauer family, Muriel Jaster, and Helen Arneson (whom he referred to as his angel). And dozens of others too numerous to mention. Anyone who Peter befriended was proud to call him friend. You only get to live once, but if you do it right – once is enough. ~ Mae West
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