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I first met Bob Manning in early 2004 when I started volunteering at the Bing Center. My boss introduced me to Bob, and said 3 words, "Help this guy". The first thing I noticed was Bob's badge, which contained his name, followed by the credentials, FM, RNG. Bob told me they meant, "Former Marine, Real Nice Guy". That's when I knew this wasn't going to be a boring relationship.

I spent a week following Bob around with a clipboard and pad of paper. I went through three pads. He invited me to join him for lunch in the cafeteria every day. I quickly learned that when walking with Bob in the Dana-Farber building, you cannot go from point A to point B, without first detouring to points C, D, E and F. And you will stop and chat with people all along the way. He knew everyone. From the "big shot" doctors to the interns, the nurses, the administrators, the pharmaceutical reps, the cleaning people, the security guards, the bus drivers, the volunteers, the cafeteria staff, many of the patients. Everyone. When we passed Dr. Ed Benz (then president of Dana-Farber) in the hall, and he looked up from his iPhone and said, "Hi Bob, how's it going?", that's when I knew that Bob was indeed a special person.

 

 

 

After reviewing my notes (and having to buy a new pair of shoes), I was amazed at the incredible amount of work he was doing, as well as the quality and attention to detail. He had compiled an impressive database of statistical data on all of the Bing Center patients that was being used by the researchers for their various studies and projects. His twenty years as a quality engineer at Polaroid had served him well for this job. Researchers would approach him for help with specific studies, and he would swing into action, gathering and delivering the needed data. All I needed to do was to help automate some of the process, and it only served to make him even more productive! If you go to PubMed, you can find "Robert J. Manning" as a contributing author on 21 published research papers.

 

 

 

In 2004, Bob was awarded the Sydney Farber Volunteer Award, for contributing 5000+ hours of service to the Institute. In the words of Dr. Steven Treon (Director of the Bing Center since 1999), "Bob amassed the largest data bank on this disease which has provided such important advances as understanding the familial incidence, clinical presentation, and clinicopathological consequences". His prior assignments include working at the The Kraft Family Blood Donor Center and the GI/GU administrative offices. Bob was a platelet donor (200+ donations) and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe transporting bone marrow, visiting 18 countries. When approached about his activities, Bob would often respond “I’m off to save another life.”

 

 

 

Throughout the years, Bob has also been part of the team that has helped to organize our Waldenstrom's Workshops, WM Summits, and other scientific meetings. From carrying the Olympic Torch at the Athens conference in 2002, to taking photos, working the desks and booths, and being an all around "goodwill ambassador", Bob has played an important and well-appreciated role in all facets of the Bing Center. Anyone who has spent time at the Bing Center remembers Bob's kindness, generosity, and upbeat sense of humor.

 

 

 

 

In September, 2019, after 29 years at Dana-Farber in various capacities, Bob decided to retire from active duty and devote more time to his family. We planned to have a nice retirement party for him, and then the pandemic got in the way. One of Bob's lifelong hobbies is collecting plates (his house is full of plates from all over the world). So we had a special plate made for him. The artist (my sister, Jackie) shipped it directly to him from her studio in Northport, AL. Hopefully, someday soon, we will have that party, and then he can show it off to all of us. Bob has made countless lifelong friends, both inside & outside of the Institute, and I consider myself lucky to be one of them. And, as Bob would say, that's not too shabby.

Phil Brodsky

Click above to play a video tribute to Bob Manning.

Photos (top to bottom):

1. Trafalger Square, London, 2014
2. ASH Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2009
3. With longtime sweetheart, Sally Feeney, Venice, Italy, 2010
4. Harvard Club, Boston (poster session), 2004
5. With David Slater, Executive Chef, Emeril's, New Orleans, 2009
6. Robert J. Manning, FM, RNG, April, 2020