Robert I. Manson,  96, seaman, athlete

Robert I. Manson, whose daughter Dana Powers resides in Ridgefield, died peacefully in his home on February 2. He was 96 years old. Born on May 4, 1918 in Red Bank, NJ, he was the son of Edna and William Manson. Bob grew up on the Navesink River in Red Bank and acquired a love of boating and the water. As a boy he built several boats of his own design; sailboats in the summer and iceboats in the winter. He and his brother Frank made their own water skis and even created trick skis.

Bob attended Amherst College and was an outstanding athlete on the track team. He was a 440-yard sprinter and ran in many collegiate races in Madison Square Garden and the old Boston Garden. Following his graduation from Amherst in 1940 he went into the family monument business in Red Bank. In 1942 he enlisted in the Navy and served as Gunnery Officer on a Destroyer Escort in the Pacific Theater.

After the war Bob married Evelyn Tigh and they settled in Red Bank. Tragically, Tigh succumbed to breast cancer shortly after the birth of their son, William. Bob, who found himself the single parent of two-week old Billy, was assisted by Tigh’s sister, Shirley Minton, and her family in Shrewsbury, NJ.In 1960 he married Susan Locklin and they had a daughter, Dana.

In 1975 he married Dorothy Blair who became the first woman mayor of Shrewsbury and after whom Manson Park was named. Bob called himself her “ardent admirer.” He became step-father to her four daughters. Bob and Dorothy traveled extensively, visiting exotic destinations world-wide and particularly enjoyed vacations on the legendary four-masted sailing ship, Sea Cloud.

For the past sixteen years, Audrey Marcoe has been a partner and companion on numerous trips and adventures throughout the world. Audrey and Bob spent 13 happy summers together on Martha's Vineyard with visiting family. Audrey added joy and laughter to Bob's final years.

Bob was employed by Johnson & Johnson, health care products for 20 years, rising to divisional vice-president. In 1967 he joined C. R. Bard Inc., a global company developing medical devices, retiring in 1983 as Group Vice-President in charge of their International Division. He volunteered many hours for the Shrewsbury Historical Society and for Christ Episcopal Church, Shrewsbury.

He leaves behind a legacy of proud service in World War II, his favorite double-breasted blue blazer bearing his Scottish family crest, his trade-mark eye-patch, and a fondness for a wee dram of Dewa’s before dinner.

Bob was predeceased by his wife Dorothy, his brother Gilbert, and sisters Ethel, Ruth, and Edna. He is survived by Audrey Marcoe of New York, NY, his brother, Frank of Gulf Breeze, FL; his son, William, of Durham, NC; his daughter Dana and her husband Tom Powers of Ridgefield, CT; stepdaughters Donna Blair of Forsyth, GA; Carrie Blair of Middleburg, VA; Georgia Blair and Robin Blair of Shrewsbury, NJ; grandson, Christian Manson and his wife Krista, of Portland, OR; and granddaughters Katherine and Grace Powers of Ridgefield, CT.

A memorial gathering was held on Tuesday February 10 from 4-6 PM at Thompson Funeral Home, 310 Broad Street, Red Bank. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shrewsbury Historical Society, P.O. Box 333, Shrewsbury, NJ, 07702

—by the family