URBANA – Walter "Walt" F. Manske, 81, of Urbana died at 12:49 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017, at home.
A celebration of Walt's life will take place Friday, June 23, 2017, at First United Methodist Church, 210 W. Church St., Champaign. An informal gathering will take place outside the sanctuary beginning at 5:30 p.m., followed by a memorial service from 7 to 8 p.m. officiated by the Rev. Richard McGuire.
Walt was born Aug. 14, 1935, in Buffalo, N.Y., a twin son of Fred and Harriet Manske.
Survivors include his sister, Sarah M. Redding of Mottville, N.Y.; a brother, Fred A. Manske Jr. (Donna) of Hilton Head, S.C.; their respective children (Laura, Julia and David Paul; Frederick III, Cynthia and Donald); as well as many cousins, including Bev Stewart of Urbana. He was preceded in death by his parents and his twin brother, Robert F. Manske.
Walt was also survived by his life partner, Helen Gotschall of Champaign; her daughter, Tara Beckett (Chad); and their children.
Walt grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. He attended Amherst Central High School where he was active in track and cross country. Walt was an avid swimmer and a member of the Boy Scouts of America, earning the rank of Eagle Scout.
Walt graduated in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio University. He then served in the USAF Air Defense Command with the 319th Fighter Intercepter Squadron as a navigator on the F-89J fighter plane, which he affectionately referred to as a "lead sled." He completed service in 1960 as a captain in the inactive reserve.
Following his national service, Walt went on a "year of discovery," traveling the highways and byways of America, starting in NYC and ending in California.
Walt's first job following his journey "on the road" was back in Buffalo with Westinghouse Corp., where he served as an administrative manager with principal responsibility for labor agreements and policies.
Walt left New York and came to the Champaign-Urbana community in 1965, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Walt first worked in the community as business and program manager for First United Methodist Church of Champaign, a position he held until 1970. Walt then served as business director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, during which he had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of musicians and entertainers of international renown.
Walt left Krannert in 1981, when he joined Carle Clinic Association as building services manager. Walt spent the next 16 years designing and managing the workspaces for the hospital and its clinics. Walt retired from Carle in 1997.
Walt was active in community affairs, with organizations ranging from Kiwanis and the University YMCA to Planned Parenthood and many others. Among Walt's most noted contributions was his tireless work with the Francis Nelson Health Center to make affordable healthcare available to all.
Those who knew Walt were struck by his kindness. Always the model of a perfect gentleman, Walt was solicitous of the needs of others, and he held the patience of a saint. In any circumstance, Walt treated each person with respect.
Walt believed in doing things well, always striving to work in a way that everyone involved could take pride in the result. His love of tools and of working with his hands was reflected by his immaculate garage workshop, a space that would be the envy of any journeyman carpenter.
Walt was devoted to his family, particularly his mother and twin brother, Robert, in their later years.
He enjoyed visits with his sister, Sarah, particularly joining her at the Chautauqua Institute for summer symposiums and sailing with her family.
Walt was very proud of his brother, Fred, whose success in business and family life were a joy to him.
Walt loved Helen, and with her the daughter and grandsons he all but adopted as his own.
Most of all, he enjoyed spending time with the people of his community and contributing to the common good.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Francis Nelson Health Center, 819 Bloomington Road, Champaign, IL 61820, which would have pleased Walt to no end.
Morgan Memorial Home, Savoy is handling arrangements (www.morganmemorialhome.com).