After the unexpected death of a former Portage County physician, family, friends and former patients are remembering Dr. Harold Cameron MacManus in high regard as a person with genuine charm and care for those around him.
MacManus, 59, died Sunday night when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed in the Tampa Bay, Fla. area, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. The cause of the crash in under investigation.
MacManus was en route to his Pikeville, Tenn. home after spending a week in Land O' Lakes, Fla. with family and friends, said Susan MacManus, his sister.
"It was a beautiful week," MacManus said, adding that her brother also spent the week with Dr. Stephen Battles, a Streetsboro doctor and longtime friend who kept a yearly spring golf outing tradition with MacManus. "It was really happy times. My sister lives down here and we were all able to have supper every night and just enjoy the nice weather and having him here for a week instead of just two or three days."
Battles said the news of MacManus' death was shocking after their yearly trip.
"I got to spend at least Tuesday to Saturday with him," he said. "We had a great time like we always do, and it's just a tragedy."
Before moving to Pikeville, Tenn. in the mid-1990s, MacManus began practicing as a family doctor at Med Center One in Kent in 1983 and quickly developed trust among his patients, along with the nickname "Dr. Mac."
"He had a big following of patients and a good rapport with staff and patients," Battles said. "He was just a great family-oriented practitioner."
Former patient Bonnie Schoeneman said MacManus had a knack for keeping the laughs rolling during her sons' visits.
"They were never afraid to go to him. You looked forward to it because you never knew what he was going to say," Schoeneman said.
When her kids had strep throat or earaches, MacManus's diagnosis was always frogs, she said.
"They would just crack up. Instead of sitting there and crying or being afraid they would just laugh at him," she said.
Before moving to Tennessee to establish his private practice, MacManus worked under former Kent physician Dr. Jon Sally for a year following the departure of Dr. John Jacobs.
"It was a year of hilarity," Sally said. "After taking somebody's blood, he'd say to the person, 'You're cholesterol is sky high, but you know, you have to die from something.' Those were the kinds of things that had people laughing and feeling comfortable."
MacManus learned to fly at a young age at a small Florida airport, taking lessons instead of paychecks while working there during high school.
"Our dad was a flight instructor during World War II in Pensacola Naval Air Station, and so my brother always loved planes," Susan MacManus said.
A few months ago he renewed his pilot's license and bought a one-passenger plane in order to visit his family more frequently with less travel time.
"I've never seen him happier than the last few months when he had the plane," she said. "We were thrilled when he decided to get himself a plane and so something fun for him because he'd always been about everybody else."
Outside of work, Battles described MacManus as a man who loved splitting and generously giving away firewood, tending a huge garden, riding his tractor and playing with his two grandsons.
"One of the reasons he went to Tennessee was that he just loved to be outdoors," Battles said. "Anyone who knew him knew he was constantly cutting trees and splitting firewood."
Even after selling his practice and retiring, MacManus would visit seniors and shut-ins to check in and deliver wood to help them stay warm, Susan MacManus said.
"A lot of people couldn't pay, but instead would pay with tomatoes from the garden or cake and he would smile and say, 'It's just what I wanted.' He was very humble," she said.
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