John Manning drove the “taxi” for pilots flying into Ocracoke to eat at Howard’s Publ. This photo was in an Our State magazine article about Howard’s Pub in 2009. Photo by Stacey Haines.

John Wallace Manning Jr, 78, died on Oct. 1, in the Currituck Health and Rehab Center in Barco, Dare County, where he had resided since April 2022, after living for 30 years on Ocracoke Island.
Born on June 26, 1945, in Hanover, New Hampshire, he was a son of the late Leona “Nidi” (nee Wierum) and John Wallace Manning Sr.

After graduating from high school in 1963 he spent two years at Borromeo Seminary, Wickliffe, Ohio.

He enlisted in the Army, serving from 1965 to 1969, with tours in Vietnam and Germany. In 1972, he graduated with a BA in communications from Ohio State University.
In the Cleveland area, John drove for the Jones Transfer Company, earned a glider pilot license, joined his late brother, Michael, in a silver jewelry-making venture, developed carpentry skills, and painted striking wall graphics.

In his love for the Great Lakes, he spent a summer as a crew member on an iron ore freighter.

“John had great stories about the Great Lakes,” said islander Randal Mathews. “He was friends with the son of one of the men who was on the Edmund Fitzgerald when it went down.”
John moved to Ocracoke Island around 1990, where he established a wood-working shop to make sand-blasted signs for area homes and businesses. Some of the beautiful signs now gracing the island are his legacy. He was a long-time member of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department.

Later, he spent several years working for Howard’s Pub and was the “taxi” driver for pilots going to lunch there.

“We shared a love of airplanes and jets,” Mathews said. “He would call me when he knew the Navy pilots or Marines were coming to Ocracoke. John loved classic cars, trains, airplanes and especially people. I never got tired of his stories about Cleveland.”

After 30 years of a life he loved, John suffered a stroke in 2019. When he needed additional care, he moved to the Barco care facility.

John is survived by six sisters: Susan Purcell (James), Seattle, WA; Martha Membrino (Joseph), Cooperstown, NY; Maureen, NYC; Mary Purcell (Joseph), Singapore; Jane Tushar (Daniel), Sammamish, WA; and Elizabeth (Michael “Casey” Ryan), Avon, OH; and by 13 nieces and nephews and 29 great-nieces and great-nephews.

A private family service will be held.
Donations in John’s memory may be made to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 332 Ocracoke, NC 27960, where John served as firefighter and later as captain.

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