Robert Francis Manning - Obituary

Robert Francis Manning, a long-time resident of Hartford and So. Windsor, Connecticut, and of Danville, Vermont, died peacefully of dementia on January 16th, 2021. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Libby Hillhouse of Danville, Vermont. Also left to cherish his memory is his brother David Manning of Delray, West Virginia. Bob also leaves his daughter, Alexandra Manning Leishman, of Junction City, KS and his son, Timothy B. Manning, and wife Karen R. Manning of South Windsor, CT.

Bob was the proud and loving grandfather and great-grandfather of Tamira Burdett, her husband Robert Burdett and their son Ian Burdett; Hailey Baker, and her sons, Levi Baker and Thomas John Keys Jr.; and Sarah Leishman, all of Kansas, and grandaughters Courtney L. Manning and Shea A. Manning of Connecticut.

He also leaves behind many loved nieces, nephews, friends and former students. Bob will be greeted in Heaven by his parents, Agnes and Thomas Manning, and his mother and father in-law, Francis B. Hillhouse & Anne Wootton Hillhouse.

Robert, “Bob”, was born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 13th, 1933. Bob attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1951-1953 prior to entering the United States Army in 1954 as a Morse Code radio operator in Ulm, Germany. He was able to visit and enjoy various museums in England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain while on his tour with the US Army. Upon his return to the United States, Bob finished his education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and earned a BFA with honors in 1958. He later achieved an MA in Studio Arts from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford in 1970. Bob loved adventure like many artists of his time, and lived in Mexico City, Mexico in the late 1950’s teaching English and art to students. In 1961, after returning to the US, Bob worked as an Arc Welder at Lock Joint Pipe Company in Newington, CT. Bob began teaching art at Glastonbury Public Schools, and the University of Hartford. He created, and over 30 years developed, the Department of Fine Arts at Manchester Community College into a serious and highly respected art program. His legacy continues there.

He had a passion for studying Stonehenge and other Neolithic monuments. He was deeply intrigued and inspired by them, to say the very least. He traveled throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and France on numerous occasions to admire and learn more about these ancient mysteries. His love for ancient stone monuments was not only reflected in his art, but he also researched and lectured on the subject in numerous public venues including Dartmouth College, the Fairbanks Museum, and Northern Vermont College. His artwork has also appeared in both solo and group showings at countless events such as the Benton Museum at University of Storrs, CT; El Museo del Arte in Lima, Peru; the Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, VT; the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; Catamount Arts, and the Artisan’s Guild, St. Johnsbury, VT; and many other locations which he always spoke fondly of. Bob and his wife, Libby, moved to Ryegate, Vermont in 1993 after retiring as Professor Emeritus from Manchester Community College. He was a member of the Speaker’s Bureau for the Vermont Humanities Council since 2001 and was a popular speaker for the statewide OSHER series.

Other than being an artist, world traveler, and educator; Bob loved to golf with friends and his son Tim. He was a competitive tennis player and wicked horseshoe player. He played (and usually won) croquet. Bob loved sports such as football and baseball, was a high ball pitcher for a regional champion Senior softball team. He played pool like a pro - being known by friends as a “Pool Shark.”. He loved going for walks with Libby and their dog, was passionate about history, and was a WWII buff. He had a unique sense of humor and a boisterous laugh that made everyone laugh if within ear shot. He enjoyed cooking, social gatherings with friends and family, was a loyal long time board member and early developer/curator of the Fried Family art gallery of Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, VT. He was a vocal and very present spokesperson for the arts throughout his long career.

Robert, Bob, Dad, GP-Bob, Uncle Bob will be very sorely missed, as his personality was truly one of a kind. He lived his life with few stones unturned, and being unapologetically and happily himself was his strongest attribute. He shared unbounded love for his family and was always there to support each when needed. His family, friends, and students will cherish his memory, artwork, and jokes always. He can be remembered theatrically quoting lines from the original Dracula movie. He also made it a point to stop into Franklin Giant Grinders in the South End of Hartford, where he grew up as a boy, and the Wadsworth Atheneum whenever he made the trip down to Connecticut. As he would say before resting for the night, it only feels appropriate to end this with his usual “goodnight boys and girls”.

Memories and condolences may be shared with family at saylesfh.com.

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