Mannix remembered by family, friends for having a life that "never had a bad day"

PLATTSBURGH If you ever asked Michael J. Mannix how he was doing, he would inevitably tell you, I never had a bad day. Though the 66-year-old Plattsburgh resident succumbed to a long battle with cancer last week, those words were fresh in the minds of those who attended his funeral at St. Peter's Church Dec. 14. Michael's brother, Martin Mannix, offered a eulogy in his honor, which was something that admittedly did not come natural to him. I'll have to ask your patience. When it came to eulogies in our family, Mike and I had an agreement I wrote em and he delivered em, said Mr. Mannix. But this is not a bad day. It's undoubtedly a sad day, but it's not a bad day. And, why do we know that? Because, Michael... Never had a bad day, everyone said in unison, accompanied by bursts of laughter. Michael, who was Martin Mannix's twin brother, was a man who made that simple and seemingly outlandish statement without batting an eye, but he truly lived it, his brother said. Even before he was diagnosed with cancer, that statement was more than a reply, it was his credo. What Mike did, was teach each of us how to live every day, said Mr. Mannix. What Michael also taught those he encountered was they were important to him. An example of that was in a story Mr. Mannix recalled of a Notre Dame football game he attended last fall in South Bend, Ind. It was there he was approached by a man in his late 40s asking him if he was Mike Mannix's brother. Now, I get a lot of that around Plattsburgh, but I wasn't expecting it in South Bend, smiled Mr. Mannix. The man knew Michael and knew he was sick. He began to tell Mr. Mannix about himself, how he was always in trouble when he was in school, and not a very good student. The man did, however, love and excel in football. It was 15 years ago when the man ran into Michael at Champlain Centre, said Mr. Mannix, and he challenged him he wouldn't remember him. Michael looked at the man for about 10 seconds before telling him his name, but rattling off the name of his old high school, the football team he played for and even the number and position he played. The man asked How did you do that,' recalled Mr. Mannix. Mike said, Well, that Ticonderoga football jacket, with the number 32 on the sleeve, they were a hint. After Martin Mannix and the man had a good laugh, the man told him how much Michael really did mean to him. Michael's ability to recognize how much the game meant to the man and his teammates, like so many other local athletes, was very important to him, especially because he took the time to show them it meant just as much to him. The man recalled certificates of achievement Michael gave to the athlete's on his all-star teams. To some, it could have been just another piece of paper, but for that man, Mr. Mannix said, that certificate was framed prominently in his family room. I'll never forget he knew my name, after all those years, Mr. Mannix recalled the man telling him. Michael was not only credited for making a difference in the lives of high school youths, his outreach extended to even being a savior at least for one local family. In his final days, he was visited by a woman for whom he changed the path of her life forever. Mr. Mannix shared that several years ago the woman was considering leaving her husband, and told Michael of her dilemma. He then wrote her a letter encouraging her to give her marriage a second chance. That letter helped her decide to do just that, Mr. Mannix said. Without Michael caring enough to write that letter, I might have let that all go away,' Mr. Mannix said the woman told him. The woman and her husband now have a young son today, something she credited to Michael's advice. Michael's friend, Herb Carpenter, met him during his early days with the Plattsburgh City Police Department in the mid-1960s. He as young officer and Michael as a young sportscaster and reporter for WIRY AM Radio, became good friends when Michael was assigned to the police beat. His fairness and integrity led him to be one of the finest reporters in the North Country, said Mr. Carpenter. He had absolute wisdom beyond his years. His reports would be accurate, they would be compassionate, they'd be fair and delivered with incredible emotion, said Mr. Carpenter. Michael's impact was felt throughout the community, from the stories he covered as a reporter to the positions he held with the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce to the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties and the Plattsburgh City School District Board of Education, to name a few organizations. One particular organization Michael with which his affiliation was well known was United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties. Mr. Carpenter said a woman with United Way of Franklin County knew of Michael during his years at the helm of the local chapter of the international not-for-profit and knew him to be the one people sought for advice within the organization. They didn't call their office in Albany, they didn't call New York City and they didn't call Washington, D.C. They called a young man up in Plattsburgh named Michael Mannix, and most of them had never met him, said Mr. Carpenter. John C. Bernardi, who assumed the role of executive director of United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties when Mr. Mannix retired in 2006, agreed his predecessor was a very knowledgeable and respected man and that his loss is being felt deeply within the community. Mike was someone I respected and admired a great deal and I feel blessed to have been his friend over the years, said Mr. Bernardi. The impact he made throughout the region with his tenacious work ethic and his optimistic approach will be felt forever. He was a kind and generous man who always put others before himself, Mr. Bernardi added. We should all be so lucky to live a life like that. Michael even touched the lives of elected officials like Janet L. Duprey. Upon visiting with Michael in his final days, the assemblywoman shared with Mr. Carpenter a memory she had of her first days in office. When she first arrived in Albany as a new legislator, she was interviewed by a reporter who asked her who were the two most important, respected and admire people in her life, said Mr. Carpenter, as Assemblywoman Duprey, who was an honorary pall bearer at Michael's funeral, nodded as he spoke. She said, The first you're not going to know. His name is Michael Mannix, and he lives in Plattsburgh. The second is Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor,' said Mr. Carpenter. That's not a bad group to be involved with. The lives Michael touched, like those of high school athletes, people in need of advice and friends like Mr. Carpenter and Assemblywoman Duprey gave Michael a rich life one he obviously valued and one that never had a bad day. Mike clung so tenaciously to life, because he had a life he loved, said Mr. Mannix. He could have said, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,' but one of his heroes, Lou Gehrig, had already used that. Instead, Mike said he never had a bad day. When he did that, he was proclaiming his zest for life ... Mike treated each day as a gift, and not a day went by that he didn't present that gift to someone else. And, if each of us were willing to live our lives daily doing that, how could we ever have a bad day?

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