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LEXINGTON MINUTEMAN

Hank Manz of Lexington remembered for work ethic, selfless dedication

Ross Cristantiello Wicked Local
Published 5:02 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2021, Updated 5:11 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2021

In 1968, Wendy Weiler was a college student, working for the Salt Lake City Girl Scout Council managing various camps when she was tapped to lead a group on a 10-day canoeing trip through the Teton Mountain Range. She was nervous. The woman who hired Wendy, however, reassured her. She told Wendy that her son, Hank, was on leave from the Navy for three weeks and would help out. Hank had his own kayak, she said, and would parallel their trip and check in on the group from time to time.

From the beginning, Wendy said, she was smitten.

"He was tall and handsome. But also very helpful. I was grateful to have him check in. I figured he'd be able to rescue us if necessary,” she said.

It was her first introduction to a man that she’d spend the next 52 years with, to a man
who would help raise their children while guiding hundreds of young people in Lexington. It was her first introduction to Henry “Hank” Manz, one of Lexington’s most respect and well- known residents, who died on Dec. 29.

Hank was many things to many people. But to Wendy, at first, he was simply someone to share meals with under the stars. For their trip, Hank’s mother outfitted him with bland, dried camping meals. Mostly beef stew, Wendy said. Hank would check in with Wendy’s group of scouts for dinner most nights of the trip, eager to get to know her and find an escape from the same mediocre meal night after night.

When the trip concluded, Hank asked Wendy to a proper dinner date.

Hank remained in the Navy while Wendy attended college. They stayed in touch, and got married in 1971. Hank had a powerfully inquisitive mind, always eager to share his knowledge with others. During the early days of their marriage, Wendy remembers waiting for him to come home every night and, without fail, tell her “I learned something interesting today.”

The couple first settled in Washington, D.C., where Wendy attended law school. After Hank’s discharge from the Navy, the two took a four-month trip around the country in
a Volkswagen Bus, driving up to Maine, across Canada, to California, and back east.

Job opportunities brought them to Massachusetts in 1983. Hank and Wendy had never heard of Lexington, but moved to the town on the recommendation from a friend. As the years went by, Wendy said, they completely took to Lexington, realizing how lucky they were to settle there.

Hank worked as an information technology professional in Cambridge while he and Wendy raised their children Jonathan, Margaret, and Kathryn.

Although Hank retired on the early side, Wendy said, he never slowed down. In fact, retiring opened up time for him to become busier than normal.

"He just could not be idle. He was always happy to be involved and always found additional ways to be involved. That's very much the person he was," she said.

Hank was a Town Meeting member, a scoutmaster, a youth hockey commissioner, and served on the Select Board for nine years. He loved solving problems, Wendy said. To him, being busy wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a source of joy.

"It was natural for him,” Wendy said. “When he saw something that needed to be done, he just thought, 'well, I can do that.'"

After stepping down from the Select Board, Manz continued to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Transportation Advisory Committee.

In 2018, he was awarded the White Tricorn Hat. The award is one of Lexington’s highest honors, bestowed on the resident who best exemplifies a commitment to serving the community annually since 1954. Hank accepted it on the stage inside Cary Hall, cradling his granddaughter Hallie in his arms and popping the hat on her tiny head before wearing it himself.

"This town is an inspiration because you really see a functioning system with a lot of citizen participation,” Wendy said. “That's the way it's supposed to work. He wanted to be a part of that."

Hank was also passionate about youth sports. He was involved with the Lexington-Bedford Youth Hockey League for 30 years, serving as the commissioner for the in-house league for the better part of 20 years.

He was the face of the organization, LBYH Board President Ron Tashjian said.

"In 'Cheers,' whenever Norm walked into the bar, everyone would yell 'Norm!' They all knew him. Hank was that person. Everyone knew why he was there and what he meant to the organization. He made it all run," Tashjian said.

Every Saturday morning, Hank would arrive at 5 a.m. to open the rink and prepare it for a full slate of games. He was extremely detail-oriented, Tashjian said, remembering him meticulously prepping things like scoring sheets for the time keepers and coaches.

"When Hank got sick last fall, we all realized how much work he actually does every morning. There's so much preparation involved. We struggled to keep up and do the things that he did," Tashjian said.

In June, Hank was awarded the William Thayer Tutt Award from USA Hockey. This is awarded annually to a volunteer who has displayed selfless dedication to the enhancement of ice hockey at the grassroots level in America. It is the top volunteer award given out by the national organization.

On top of it all, Hank continued to lead Boy Scouts Troop 160. Over 17 years as a scoutmaster, he helped 97 kids earn their Eagle Scout status. This was one of the things he was most proud of, Wendy said.

In the last few days, Wendy said the outpouring of support from the Lexington community has been overwhelming. Even before Hank died, community members would help rake leaves from his yard, or clear it of snow.

"I just wish he could be here to see it. I know that he would be very touched,” Wendy said. “This is a good town. We ended up here by serendipity but I think it was a very lucky thing for us."


by posted 01/06/2021
LBYH Quarantine Protocol & Rink Guidelines

LBYH Quarantine Protocol

Updated Valley Rink Guidelines & Protocols


by posted 11/05/2020
COVID-19 Contact Tracing Links

Hayden Contact Tracing Questionnaire

Edge Contact Tracing Questionnaire


by posted 09/14/2020
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