1951 ~ 2020 (age 69)
It has been said that nearly everyone today knows someone who has suffered from COVID-19. Many have lost loved ones and friends. The Peninsula Symphonic Band has not escaped without a tragedy. We suffered the loss of our dear friend and musical colleague, John Mann.
We will all miss John’s friendly attitude and smile as much as we will miss his musical gift. We must take comfort in knowing that John is still making music just in a heavenly ensemble now.
Play on, John!
John Philip Mann left his earthly home and entered the loving arms of his Savior on November 29, 2020. Born the youngest of three boys to Wallace and Eileen (Gross) Mann on May 4, 1951 in Sturgeon Bay, John lived his 69 years on the family homestead. John was a farm boy at heart who learned about hard work, and some fun as well, in the fields with his Pa. From a young age he always loved horses – even the smell of them – and had a natural calm and gentle demeanor whenever he was with them. Inside the farmhouse, Wallace and Eileen hosted family around the table often, and John grew up with loving aunts and uncles, brothers and friends sharing meals, stories, and laughter together there. Being raised on the family farm provided adventures and diversions that later became wonderful memories shared with his children and grandchildren. Some of his favorite stories included how he used to put his goat and cow to the harness, the time he walked the fields to find his Pa after a nap at the age of four, and attending Waniger one-room schoolhouse down the road. Yes, he did walk in the snow, maybe not uphill, but both ways.
John’s love of music started early, and he excelled as a trombone player, earning many awards and performance opportunities in high school. John decided to pursue music education at UW Oshkosh and attended one year before realizing music instruction wasn’t for him. His love of brass instruments led him to Allied Instrument repair school, where he earned a certificate for instrumental repair. His love of music was a thread woven throughout his life. John was a founding member of The Bone Boys trombone ensemble and The Peninsula Symphonic Band, a pit member for Southern Door Musicals for over a decade, and readily shared his musical gifts in other ensembles and churches. While trombone was his main instrument, John also played baritone, trumpet, dabbled in piano, and had in recent years taken up cello.
Always interested in a musical performance, John attended a Sturgeon Bay High School musical, in 1970, where he saw his future wife, Georgene, on stage as Eliza in My Fair Lady. Having grown up with mutual family friends, John and Georgene were not strangers, but John reported “falling a little bit in love” after hearing her sing on stage. For Georgene’s part, she did remember John as the “goat boy,” as he had apparently shown off his “goat cart” to her and her siblings when they were children. The couple married in 1973, at Friends Church in Sturgeon Bay, and welcomed two children, Jason and Jennifer, in the following years. John’s love for Georgene was so evident to all those around them, and their marriage of 47 years a testament to that deep love and commitment.
John was a painter, and owned his own business for 40 years. If you hired John to work for you, you could expect much more than “slapping paint on the walls,” in John’s words. He was a true craftsman who loved to creatively restore and refinish. He had impeccable taste for color and an eye for the details of a project. Always a patient teacher, John made sure his kids knew how to hold a paint brush, cut-in correctly, and most importantly, how to clean up properly. Both Jason and Jen spent summers employed by their dad and can could attest to learning more on the job than just painting. John treated his customers like family and always did a little extra, teaching his kids the worth of a job well done, and the importance of a nap right after lunch.
Being a dad was John’s joy, and becoming a grandpa expanded that joy six times. He was interested in everything his grandkids did and was thrilled to attend sporting events, concerts, dance recitals and school events. He didn’t want to miss any chance to support them and show how proud he was of them all. John delighted in sharing his love of horses with his grandkids, and gave countless hay rides and sleigh rides, creating many memories for family and friends alike. A sleigh ride on a clear winter evening with those he loved, accompanied by the jingle of bells, filled him with happiness.
Through all of his life, John’s relationship with Christ came first and was central to his being. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – these fruits of the spirit shined through John to all those around him. This spirit flowed into how he led and raised his family and how he worked with and treated others throughout his life. He is remembered for his gentle and caring nature, the twinkle of kindness in his eyes, and how generously he shared his time with those around him. Throughout life’s ups and downs, John lived rooted with an inward trust of his Savior, always centered in thanksgiving and wonder for all of God’s many good gifts.
John was preceded in death by his parents Wallace and Eileen Mann, brother, Gerry Mann, father-in-law, Bob Warner, and many beloved aunts and uncles. Survivors include his wife, Georgene; two children, Jason (Morgan) Mann, Sturgeon Bay; Jen (Eric) Leiberg, Sturgeon Bay; Six grandkids, Merrick, Marcus and Michael Mann; Eva, Lily, and Vaughn Leiberg; a brother, Kenn (Betty) Mann, California; sister-in-law, Elaine Mann, Chippewa Falls, WI; mother-in-law, Mary Warner; five brothers-in-law, Fred (Tami) Warner; Bill Warner; Rob (Diane) Warner; Randy (Jennifer) Warner; Pete (Lisa) Warner; sister-in-law, Luanne (Steven) Secrest; an aunt, Donita Gross; many nieces and nephews.
Private family services will be held at Friend’s Community Church with Nancy Bontempo officiating. Burial will be in Schumacher Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held later in the spring. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in John’s name at Nicolet National Bank.
John’s family would like to thank the DCMC covid unit staff and the Bellin covid ICU Drs. and nurses who cared for John in his final days.