The Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor will add four new inductees on Friday April 17 in the Sidney High School auditorium to increase membership to 115 since its founding in 1993. The 7:30pm event will precede a gymnasium reception with both open to the public. Four alumni will be honored including the late Donald Manning (SHS 1933) along with Todd Bassett (1957), Ken Monnier (1977), and Todd Taylor (1990). Manning joins many Hall members whose professional accomplishments have made worldwide impact.
The story of Donald Manning is well documented. The Sidney Daily News followed his career while numerous professional publications detailed his influence on the bus industry. He may be the most significant figure in the history of bus design and development as the holder of over 30 patents that addressed such aspects as fuel economy, speed, engine cooling, passenger comfort, baggage transport, handicap accessibility, and safety of operation. Many of his innovations on behalf of the handicapped came before they were mandated as Manning simply looked to expand the customer base for bus travel. Though his area of concentration was inner-city transit buses, Donald's work also touched the highway and school bus sectors.
Following high school he studied drafting before his career began right in Sidney with the formation of C.D. Beck Coach Company in 1935. Manning was the firm's first draftsman and later became chief engineer, staying with the company for its entire duration of two decades. Within that period he served with the Navy Air Force for three years during World War II. Beck was acquired by Mack Trucks in 1955 and Manning remained until 1960 when Mack exited Sidney and the bus business. He then joined General Motors in several top level engineering positions. He formally retired in 1975 to form his own consulting company whose services were in great demand by worldwide clients. His total industry service spanned over 60 years.
As an aside, the primary former Sidney home of the bus business where Donald Manning plied his trade is still quite visible today. The longtime LeRoi location at Main & Russell in north Sidney was originally built by Beck in 1946 and also occupied by Mack before LeRoi's arrival in the early 1960's. Several expansions and renovations followed. The original structure is closest to the intersection with the high garage doors still defining that area.
Donald and his late wife Courtney (Cottrell, SHS 1938) were the parents of two adopted children. He's the first member of the 1933 graduating class to join the Hall of Honor.