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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Former teacher served 14 years in Ohio House

DEFIANCE - Retired State Rep. William Lawrence “Larry” Manahan of Defiance died Saturday of complications after heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. He was 73.

Mr. Manahan, a Republican, was elected in 1979 to the first of seven consecutive two-year terms in the Ohio House of Representatives representing District 79, the Defiance community where he lived most of his life. He was noted for his activism on behalf of home-schooling and term limits for state legislators.

Mr. Manahan's pet legislation was a term-limits bill, said his wife, Evelyn, to whom he was married for 50 years. When it failed, he took the issue to the polls in 1992.

“You had to be [in the General Assembly] 15 to 20 years before you could make any decisions that count,” he told The Blade in 2001. “I strongly believed those in the business of making laws under which everyone else must live should take their life experiences, go to the table, make contributions in crafting laws, and then be willing to go back and live under those laws. They shouldn't make a career of it.”

He retired in 1993 after 14 years in office.

“Larry was a gentleman's gentleman, with immense integrity and a love of God that was always evident,” said state Sen. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon). “He had a steady hand. His decisions were well thought out, even on the most difficult issues. And he always had a kind word in tough situations.”

Mr. Manahan was born in Defiance, one of five children of Ohio Rep. William Manahan, Sr., who served in the state house in the 1940s and 1950s, his wife said.

He attended Defiance schools and served as supply sergeant for a mobile army hospital in Korea. He married Evelyn Mayer, his high school sweetheart, in 1951; he finished a bachelor's degree at Defiance College in 1953 and a master's degree in education at Bowling Green State University in 1958.

He was elected to Defiance City Council and eventually became its president.

For 14 years Mr. Manahan taught in Ayersville and Defiance schools, specializing in government and woodworking, his wife said. He spent another decade with Four County Vocational School and Northwest Technical College, Archbold, where he was dean of instruction.

A dream came true in 1979 when he was elected district representative. He took to state politics right away, his wife said, even though he was a minority party member and his bills faced daunting odds.

“Politics was part of his family. It was how he grew up,” Mrs. Manahan said. “It was in his blood. And he believed in becoming a well-rounded person first, then taking that experience to [the House]. He wanted to contribute, then get out of the way.”

Mr. Manahan's voting record was heavily influenced by his Christian faith, his wife said. He attended St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Defiance “from baptism to burial,” taught Sunday school, and served on several committees.

“His convictions helped him make the right decisions when it came time to vote on a bill,” Mrs. Manahan said. “He grew up in the church and over the years he just got better at it.”

After retiring, Mr. Manahan returned to woodworking, and turned out everything from picnic tables to baseboards for family projects. He enjoyed fishing, watching sports on television, and placing Gideon Bibles in area nursing homes, hospitals, and hotel rooms.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; son, Michael; three daughters, Susan Sorbera, Tammy Moss, and Barbara Palumbo, and 16 grandchildren, all of them home-schooled, Mrs. Manahan said.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Visitation is 2 to 8 p.m. tomorrow and 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. Arrangements were handled by the Mast-Mock-Hoffman Funeral Home, Defiance

The family requests tributes to the Gideons International, the church, or a charity of donor's choice.



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