Rosemary Anne Manak, age 66, a resident of Glen Ellyn, IL, died unexpectedly at home on June 15, 2021. Ro was born on June 29, 1954 in Newport, Rhode Island. She attended Rogers High School but graduated from St. George’s School, both in Newport, in the first graduating class with girls. A graduate of Marquette University, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1976.
She met her future husband, Tom, while she was a sophomore in the Marquette University Varsity Chorus. Six days after graduation, she and Tom married and moved immediately to Washington, DC where Tom was in graduate school. They then moved to Wisconsin, North Dakota, California, and the Washington, DC area before settling in Glen Ellyn in 1987.
At that time she began her career as a real estate paralegal working for Equity Office and related organizations until her retirement in 2006.
Ro was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993; it was after this diagnosis that Ro became an athlete: she fought the disease physically through exercise, taking up golf, and in later years worked with groups including Rock Steady Boxing and Movement Revolution. She worked ceaselessly on maintaining voice quality, an issue for many people with PD, through in-person classes and ultimately regular Zoom or live streaming practice with the Parkinson Voice Project and the Loud Crowd through Northwestern Medicine. She was also able to practice singing through programs at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Stony Brook Southampton (NY) Hospital’s Center for Parkinson’s disease, and Iowa State University. If there was a program that would help her fight the disease or in which she had an interest she was there. The week before she died Ro attended 14 exercise and voice programs plus church choir rehearsal. Parkinson’s disease did not hold her back in any way.
Parkinson’s disease also didn’t define or limit Ro. Ro was an active member of the Glen Ellyn 4th of July Committee for more than twenty years helping to plan all of the activities for Glen Ellyn’s Independence Day celebrations. Shortly after moving to Glen Ellyn, she became a member of the First Congregational Church UCC of Glen Ellyn: she worked with the youth groups, on committees, managed the travel plans for choir trips with an attention to the finer details, and she added much to the church choir as a serious and humorous alto. There are several recordings of Ro singing with the choir, having worked tirelessly on her recordings or Zoom choir videos for the virtual choir. Neither COVID-19 nor Parkinson’s stopped her in her love of singing.
No matter what toll her Parkinson’s disease was taking on her, she shared with the choir the holiest moments of music together, singing in churches, cathedrals, and stages across the country including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago, St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and Carnegie Hall, New York – twice. Yet choir was more than the music for Ro as she equally shared moments of laughter in between rehearsals, performances, and worship, over a glass of wine, red of course, a picnic basket, a lunch table, post cantata snacks, and choir ladies getting together at the lake. None of this could have happened as her disease progressed without the support of the whole choir, choir leadership, and in particular the other altos.
She loved golf although it was 20 years after she was married and after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that she took it up. She hated slow play. The Masters, US Open, and PGA Championship were tournaments she attended and even though she was never very accomplished she played some of the premier courses in the country included the Ocean Course at Kiawah, the Greenbrier, the Homestead, courses in Kohler, Galena, RTJ Trail, and like many other golfers put two balls in the water on the island hole, number 17, at TPC Sawgrass. She also got to see Tom get his only hole in one. However, the Village Links of Glen Ellyn was her home course.
Ro loved Tom, her dogs but especially Mikki, singing and boxing; she offered insight and humor to those around her, and she will be dearly missed.
Ro was preceded in death by her father John M. Bric, her mother Rosemary Anne Bric (Sullivan) and brothers Terry and Chris. Survivors include John, Sandi Robertson, Peter, and Stephen and her loving husband Tom whom in May they celebrated 45 years of marriage.
In lieu of flowers a donation to the Parkinson’s Foundation www.parkinson.org would be greatly appreciated to continue the fight against this terrible disease.
A service to celebrate Ro’s life will be held at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Saturday August 7th at 1:00pm. Due to capacity limitations they are asking people to register who plan on coming to the service. Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebration-of-life-for-ro-manak-tickets-161807070303
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