Submitted by Joan Bittner Fry

From the Record Herald, Waynesboro, PA, 1951, by Carol Woster 

It has long been debated whether teaching aids, learning games, films, or the preponderance of gimmicky books that flood present-day classrooms add much to the serious business of teaching.

And learning is what the late George Willis Manahan deemed it: serious business. A former pupil recently conjectured what Manahan would think if he could walk into a modern-day classroom. One got the idea he might not like some of what he saw.

The consensus of opinion seems to be that Mr. Manahan taught a well-rounded approach to subjects, offering at the same time skills that held a pupil in good stead no matter what field the student entered.

Former pupil, Paul Fry (late, of Sabillasville), says when you went to school with him, you could spell 25 words each day, about 67 new words each week. “He taught sixth and seventh grades and 13 subjects, and he rarely missed class. He believed (at minimum) everyone should be able to read and write his name, count money, and read to find out what was going on. He had discipline; he wasn’t afraid of you; the majority of students respected him and parents did too.”

Fry said Manahan was not opposed to giving a thrashing now and then, but after it was over, all was forgotten and amends were usually pretty quickly made. Citing examples from his own work interests, Fry tells how Mr. Manahan used the ‘simplest ways’ to explain the most complicated of learning areas: finding meridian distance, square roots, and logarithms. Fry says he has done a lot of surveying because of the interest Manahan showed in teaching.

Well-known play director, Alan Schneider* praises his school days under the tutelage of Manahan. “He not only gave me confidence, he impressed me with the gentility and manners of American tradition.  Schneider says he owes Manahan a ‘great debt’ for all his learning.

Concludes a former student, “To me, he was the greatest – if you made an effort, he couldn’t do enough to help you. He smiled when he thought he had done some good.”

We found Mr. Manahan’s daughter, Mrs. Florence Kipe, sitting with her husband, Oliver, on their porch, banked on either side by large lavender rhododendrons at the foot of Skunk Hollow Road. As early evening spread over the hilly landscape beyond and some of it parceled into growing corn fields, we spoke of her father and her earlier life.

She had been born the youngest of four at the picturesque farm located directly across from our view, now owned by Chester Willard. It had been a family home where they sold vegetables, chickens, and eggs to the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium up on the hill.

When asked if he had been taught by his wife’s father, Kipe said he had to go to school at Friend’s Creek. “I’m sorry I didn’t get taught by him.” Kipe, the son of a Church of God minister, was born at Smithville, Pennsylvania and ‘moved about 30 times’ in this northern Maryland area.

Mrs. Kipe said she was taught by her father. For the first three years, however, she was taught by Miss Frances Rowe of Emmitsburg. Mrs. Kipe recounted that her father was born on April 8, 1866 and was married to Virginia Miller, also of Sabillasville. Their children were Mrs. Earl Eby (Mabel), Paul Manahan, Emma Manahan, and herself.

“He started teaching when he was 19 and taught for 42 years.” All but a couple of months were spent at the former schoolhouse on Harbaugh Valley Road (now a residence next to St. John’s Parish Hall). Mrs. Kipe said her father didn’t go to college but attended summer school sessions in Baltimore.

*Alan Schneider (1917 – 1984) was an American theatre director responsible for more than 100 theater productions. In 1984 he was honored with a Drama Desk Special Award for serving a wide range of playwrights.

GEORGE WILLIS MANAHAN, 85 (1866-1951), retired teacher and surveyor of Thurmont, died last night at his home. He had earlier resided in Sabillasville, where he taught school for 42 years. He was a surveyor for 65 years.

He was a member of the Sabillasville Reformed Church. He was superintendent of the Sunday School for a number of years. He was a member of the Junior O.U.A.M. at Cascade.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia C. (Miller) Manahan, and the following children: Mrs. Earl (Mabel) Eby, Sabillasville; Miss Emma Manahan, Thurmont; Paul Manahan, Decatur, Ga.; Mrs. Oliver (Florence) Kipe, Sabillasville; 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Also one sister, Mrs. Charles Brillhart, Hagerstown.

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