Blogs » Helping Hands » Handy Manny

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I don't claim to be one of Manuel De Los Santos' best friends. I was a colleague. A peer. When Manny, who died Monday, came to the newsroom from the circulation department at the Advocate, we had daily interaction. He, as an assistant local editor, often edited my articles. Always friendly, but professional, he didn't mind offering suggestions or corrections when they were needed, too. But we also shared other common bonds. We talked about our days in the military quite often. He'd tell me stories about his youth in Victoria and how different things were in the '60s for a Hispanic kid. I'd tell him about being a teenager in the '70s and the wildness that often included. I liked Manny. He had a quick smile and quick wit. One day my car wouldn't start as I was trying to leave the job after working late. I was tired and grumpy. I asked around the newsroom who had jumper cables and was met with mostly blank stares. But Manuel did and didn't hesitate to offer his help. He pulled his pickup alongside my car and while "semi-lecturing" me with that smile on the importance of car maintenance, gave me a jump start. From then on to me, he was "Handy Manny." Even after he left the newspaper, he'd call back from time to time to chat with some of us who were still here from his tenure. I spoke with him maybe a couple of months ago...maybe longer...when he had some story ideas to run by me. I've missed his smile and conversation around the newsroom the last few years and now his friends and family will miss him, too. My sincerest condolences go out to them. Thanks Handy Manny -- for the jump start and the friendship. You were a good man.