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Obituary Stories

History teacher from Latrobe 'fired up' his students

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

Charles Manoli was a teacher with the ability to inspire his students to think about history beyond the books he brought to the classroom.

“He was the most important inspiration in my life,” said Donald Miller, one of Manoli's students during the 1960s at St. Vincent College. “I was not a good student at the time, and he had a transformative effect on me.”

Charles G. Manoli Sr. of Latrobe died of complications following hip surgery on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. He was 89.

Mr. Manoli was born June 17, 1927, in Morgantown, W.Va. He was a graduate of the former St. Vincent Preparatory School, St. Vincent College and the University of Pittsburgh. During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in the Philippines.

He started teaching in 1953 at Park Terrace Junior High School in North Versailles. In 1958, he returned to St. Vincent Prep, then in 1962 to St. Vincent College, where he would remain for more than four decades.

“He'd come in with books that he'd been reading that were pertinent to the class, and he really got us fired up about reading and history,” said Miller, a history professor at Lafayette College. “There was nothing loud and boisterous about him, but he really just took command of the class material. He was an amazing guy.”

Miller dedicated his 2014 book about the Jazz Age in Manhattan to Mr. Manoli.

As a Seton Hill student, his wife, Anita, spent years trying to meet Mr. Manoli after seeing him in a roommate's yearbook.

“I saw this boy, Robert Manoli. I told her he was cute, but she said, ‘You should see (his brother)Charles,' ” his wife said. “She said all the girls were crazy about him, but he didn't pay attention, he just sat on his porch and read books. So I really tried to meet him, because he sounded interesting.”

It took three years, but Anita and Charles finally met through one of his classmates. Anita said his depth of knowledge immediately struck a chord with her.

Manoli's son, Gerard, said his father was “always on the right side of history.”

“Whether it was civil rights, the Vietnam War, human rights issues, gender equality — whatever it was, my dad was at the forefront,” Gerard said. “He really walked the walk.”

Former student Michael Walsh of Harrisburg said Mr. Manoli's teaching challenged him in the best ways.

“The textbook was not the most important book in the class,” Walsh said. “It was really what he asked us to read beyond that, whether it was the local newspaper or another book. He was someone who believed that you shouldn't always let schoolwork get in the way of your education.”

Mr. Manoli is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anita Lavin Manoli; five children, Ann Lavin Manoli Ruddy of Pittsburgh, Charles George Manoli Jr. and wife, Mary Anne, of San Rafael, Calif., Joan Lavin Manoli and Norma, of Pittsburgh, Gerard Manoli of Hudson, Ohio, and Hugh Manoli (Linda) of Rochester, N.Y.; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Vincent Basilica, Latrobe.

Memorial donations can be made to the Charles G. and Anita L. Manoli Scholarship, c/o St. Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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