This [e-mail message sent Mon, Nov 14, 2005 at 5:21 PM] is to let you know that our colleague, John McManus, passed away last night. John had been in poor health for some time, suffering in quiet from congestive heart failure. For the last few years John has been living in Meford, a small town on Georgian Bay, doing his two favourite things: playing golf and drinking beer.
For those of you who are new to the department and didn’t know John, you have missed a true character. When John could be got to focus on your work, you knew you were dealing with someone serious—a ruthlessly insightful critic who always knew what was wrong with a paper, but who sometimes had trouble explaining exactly why it was wrong. Often months later in a totally different context, some throw-away McManus line would strike a cord and it would suddenly become clear exactly what he had meant. What was particularly unique about McManus and his criticism was that he treated us all equally. Students often had trouble with this, as did we on many occasions. But John never was a respector of persons and always treated an idea as such. Moreover, if the idea was at all controversial, pointless debate could be spared by re-structuring the proposition as a bet. Many disagreements with John have became the basis of historic department bets, always in beers (often in cases). When he lost, John was a good loser.
While John lived his economics, he never much appreciated that talent and never seemed inclined to push his insights on the rest of the world. Indeed, getting John to publish would have been one of our Chairs’ greatest nightmares. John greatly preferred to smoke his pipe, drink his beer and play golf. In this he was also truly democratic, playing golf and drinking beer with anyone and saving his scorn only for those who talked during play and who tried to bluff.
In memory of John we will be sharing a pint or two at Paddy’s Pub on Bank Street (Ottawa South), this Sunday from 7:00 to 9:00. I hope you will be able to stop by and share a story.