Robert "Bob" Manning Jr., devoted husband, loving father, career U.S. Army officer, community leader and youth mentor, age 81, died on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, at National Healthcare in Sumter.

Born on Nov. 25, 1937, in Alcolu, he was a son of the late Robert Manning Sr. and Amanda Stukes Manning. He was baptized at Greenhill Baptist Church and educated in the public schools of Clarendon County (Manning Training High School). He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, attended law school at South Carolina State College, and received graduate degrees from the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, and Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army after 22 years of active federal service and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Highlights during his distinguished military career include commanding a Special Forces Operational Detachment "A-Team" in Vietnam, executive officer of the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Germany, and command of the 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.

Bob was a decorated combat veteran and community leader who lived his life to serve others. He believed the foundation of leadership is unquestionable integrity and trust and would often say, "Being a leader is more than having responsibility and a title. Leaders inspire and believe in their people; it's about investing in the growth of others. Never miss an opportunity to make a difference with people."

After retiring from the U.S. Army, Bob served as the senior Army instructor for high school Junior ROTC (JROTC) programs in Savannah, Georgia (A.E. Beach High School), Lancaster (Lancaster High School) and Sunrise, Florida (Piper High School). He was a devoted mentor to a generation of cadets and took great pride in investing in youth.

Bob was an active member of the Sumter community, competitive racquetball player, integral member of the Saint Anne and Saint Jude Parish, the Knights of Columbus, Omega Psi Phi Inc., and a voracious reader who volunteered countless hours to increasing awareness about the plight of the endangered manatee.

Survivors include his soulmate of 60 years and wife of 57 years, Bessie J.; two sons, Allan B. Manning (Cam) and retired Col. Robert "Trey" Manning III (Deborah); six grandchildren, Allyson C. Manning, Marquis Sullivan Manning, Marquel D. Manning, Ashley P. Manning, Mikayla D. Manning and Mackenzie J. Manning; two great-grandchildren, Amear Manning and Aniyah Manning; and siblings Minnie L. Brown, Lousanna David, Lee Manning (Francis), Lawrence Manning (Fletcher, deceased), Mozetta Isaac (Jeff) and George E. Manning (Diaetta); and a host of beloved nieces, nephews, relatives, neighbors and friends.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers and a sister.

The wake is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Samuels Funeral Home, 114 N. Church St., Manning.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Saint Anne and Saint Jude Parish, 216 E. Liberty St., Sumter. Burial with full military honors will be at 1 p.m. at  Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Robert Manning Jr.'s name to the Save the Manatee Club (, 500 N. Maitland Ave., Suite 210, Maitland, FL 32751 and/or Saint Anne and Saint Jude Parish Building Fund, 216 E. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150.

All are welcome to sign the family's guest book at