BEVERLY — Manuel “Manny” Ignacio Jr., 96, husband of the late Cecile (Jacques) Ignacio, died peacefully on Sunday morning, March 9, 2014, at Masconomet Healthcare Center in Topsfield.
Born in Peabody, he was the son of the late Manuel and Lenor (Bettencourt) Ignacio, and brother of the late Mary Enos of Gloucester. He was a lifelong communicant of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Beverly.
At the age of 4, he returned with his family to their ancestral home in the Azores, where he spent several years before returning to Peabody to complete his grammar and high school education. He graduated from Peabody High School in 1938. While in the Azores, he mastered the Portuguese language, enabling him to become a radio announcer and singer for the Portuguese Friends weekly program on radio station WESX in Salem before World War II.
In the late 1930s, Manny was a talented bass fiddle player much in demand at Boston area clubs. While he enjoyed many stints playing with big-name bands touring the Northeast, he sought steadier employment and joined Sylvania Electric Products at its Loring Avenue facility in 1940.
When the United States entered World War II, Manny joined the United States Coast Guard in 1942, and shipped out to the Pacific Theater in L.S.T. 763. He saw action at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Saipan, the Philippines, and finally at Japan itself. Although he rarely chose to discuss the horror and devastation he witnessed firsthand, Manny shared with his family his deep feelings of admiration and respect that he held for those American troops he helped ferry ashore and into battle during amphibious landings under enemy fire.
After he was honorably discharged in February 1946, Manny returned to Sylvania. He continued to play the bass fiddle with local groups, at weddings and other special occasions. Always ready to participate in any music scene, Manny also enjoyed performing in the annual Sylvania minstrel shows.
Manny was an accomplished bowler, participating throughout the 1950s and 60s in numerous leagues at Beverly Bowl-O-Mat on River Street. His bowling skills, quick sense of humor, and ready support for other team members found him in demand for league play.
In 1958, Manny successfully completed a professional home study course offered by Northeastern University, earning his Certificate of Supervisory Development. He retired from Sylvania in 1982 as a senior supervisor.
After his retirement, Manny’s previous hearing disability worsened significantly. He worked with the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), also known as Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, to receive Lacey, a specially trained companion dog for the hearing impaired. For over a decade, Lacey brought Manny’s attention to important sounds such as doorbells, approaching vehicles and warning alarms. The two were inseparable, and Manny frequently participated in NEADS “hearing dog” demonstrations before prospective clients and interested sponsors.
Manny is survived by two daughters, Shirley Pitman and her husband, William, of Beverly, and Beverly Brewer and her husband, Jeffrey, of Northfield, N.H. He is also survived by four grandchildren, David Pitman and his wife, Laura, of Beverly, Roberta Chirco and her husband, Brian, of Beverly, Alyssa Brewer and her husband, Daniel, of Madison, Wis., and Ramona Brewer of Essex; as well as five great-grandchildren, Cameron, Casey, Josey, and Leah Chirco, all of Beverly, and Perla Brewer of Madison, Wis. He also leaves several nieces and nephews.
ARRANGEMENTS: Family and friends are invited to an hour of visitation on Thursday, March 13, from 11 to 12 a.m., to be followed by a funeral service at 12 p.m., at the Campbell, Lee, Moody, Russell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, North Beverly, and interment with his wife’s remains in Beverly’s St. Mary's Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made in memory of Manny and Lacey to NEADS, P.O. Box 213, West Boylston, MA 01583. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com.