Friends, colleagues run out of adjectives when presenting
tribute to retiring board chairman Darrell Manning

Director Ness announces decision to name auditorium after longtime public servant

The words were remarkably similar, yet strikingly different. Some became repetitive; all were personal and unquestionably appropriate:

How do you capture a lifetime of service to state and country in 35 minutes? Friends and colleagues stood, one after another, in the ITD Headquarters auditorium Wednesday attempting to reduce Gen. Manning’s contributions to words:

Dedicated public servant
Gentleman and friend
Impressive record of service
Right and fair
Warm, compassionate and understanding
Great partner
Mentor and leader
Patient, calm, friendly and balanced

The emotional tribute came upon his departure as chairman of the transportation board. His formal retirement from ITD service followed a number of other career and lifetime transitions. A 3 ½-minute video began by welcoming friends to “the 16th retirement of Darrell V Manning,” and later announced that Gov. Cecil Andrus quit attending the general’s frequent retirements several years ago.

The video, including historic and artificially engineered photos, traced Gen. Manning’s 74-year journey from birth in Preston to his latest incarnation of public service with the transportation board. Although that journey included many tangents, it always returned to roots of unselfish service and dedication.

After graduating from the Utah State University and marrying Rochelle in 1955, Gen. Manning enlisted in the Air Force where he spent six years of active duty and a dozen years in the Air Force Reserve. He served during the Cuban Missile and Dominican Republic crises and flew missions over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam Conflict.

Gen. Manning left the Air Force in 1973, but he took his wings with him. He joined the Idaho National Guard in 1973 and 12 years later was appointed adjutant and commanding general of the Guard. He earned 25 military ribbons, medals and citations and myriad awards for outstanding service.

The general has seen as much of the world from a cockpit as he has from the seat of an automobile. He logged 5,700 hours of flying in the military, 8,000 hours as a civilian pilot, flew 65 different aircraft and traveled more than 2 million miles as a pilot.

He served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives (1961, ’63, ’65 and ’67) and one term in the Senate (1971- 72) and launched an unsuccessful campaign to become Idaho’s Second Congressional District representative in 1968. Gen. Manning admits that he won in losing.

Rep. Hansen captured more votes and claimed the title, but Gen. Manning emerged the true winner because “I didn’t have to go to Washington,” he said.

When Idaho governors needed a proven leader, they frequently called Gen. Manning’s name. He served Idaho with/ for govs. Robert E. Smylie, Don Samuelson, Cecil Andrus, John V. Evans, Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne and C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Stops along the way included director of the Department of Aeronautics, Idaho Transportation Department, State Board of Education, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the Division of Financial Management (three different tenures), the Idaho Military Division and the Bureau of Disaster Services (now Bureau of Homeland Security.)

He also was one of just two non-legislative members of the 1973 Executive Reorganization Commission that streamlined state government by combining and eliminating state agencies

During his 11-year tenure as ITD’s first (and longest-serving) director, Gen. Manning was president of the Western Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials and the Transportation Research Board.

In a ceremony dominated by well-deserved praise, perhaps the most touching moment for Gen. Manning came after a testimonial by ITD Director Brian Ness.

The retiring chairman has presided over transportation board meetings in ITD’s auditorium since 2007, in front of closed drapes that shielded a stark brick wall. For perhaps the first time in that tenure, the curtains were drawn back Wednesday to assure that Gen. Manning’s legacy will continue.

“From now on, this room will be known as the Darrell V Manning boardroom and auditorium,” Ness proclaimed. The windowless wall now features a large ITD logo and Gen. Manning’s name in large, silver-colored letters.

While the chairman’s gavel has been passed to Jerry Whitehead, the room will be forever remembered as Darrell Manning’s room.

Published 1-20-2012