Mighty good Mann

Mighty good Mann

NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at nwilkersonholmes@pleasantonexpress.com.

NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at nwilkersonholmes@pleasantonexpress.com.

I n your lifetime, if you are fortunate, you meet a person who is good and kind through and through. Pleasanton ISD Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mann who died on Saturday at age 49 was that person. Dr. Mann was the type of leader you could count on to do the next right thing with the very best intention for the outcome of all.

What a delight it was to see him in action greeting every child, or for that matter every person, with a gentle and caring heart and a smile that shined through his eyes. He was always present in your presence. He had time for you.

It was a joy to run into Dr. Mann who seemed omnipresent in our community. Our conversations were always productive and easy. We spoke openly and honestly with each other about worldly and local matters. He was someone I trusted my true opinions with and felt comfortable bouncing an idea off of. In nearly every conversation, he would take the time to tell me about a teacher or a student who had just done something really “neat” that I may be interested in covering. He always liked to shine the light on others.

The day before he had a heart attack, he texted me to let me know that Col. Wynder who heads up the JROTC had been inducted into the FAMU National Alumni Association and that it would be a good story. That will be my last text from him. Tuesday at 12:59. When COVID hit and schools closed, Dr. Mann immediately started a lunch and before school feeding program, for not only children from Pleasanton ISD but for any child in the whole county. He and his wife Sara were on hand working for the community-wide food drives at the Pleasanton River Park during the pandemic. This is just who he was. Heart open and hands on.

The week Gov. Abbott closed the schools, Dr. Mann addressed the Pleasanton City Council and informed them of his strategic plan for PISD to transition teachers and students to distance learning. I remember looking at Aubrey Olle Smith during that meeting as he spoke. We shared a look of awe and gratitude, but were not at all surprised that he had it handled.

How many lives did Dr. Mann touch? How many little hands did he shake? Little shoulders did he hug? Books did he read out loud or have read to him? Dr. Mann lived a very short life, but he loved more than most do in a lifetime. He was not one dimensional where work was all he was about. He also loved and enjoyed life.

He was married for 27 years to his college sweetheart Sara who happens to be remarkable, brilliant and dynamic. Sara and Matt loved each other’s company and it showed. In public, you would see them walking up to an event holding hands, deep in conversation or laughing. In private, they took advantage of all life had to offer traveling to New York City, listening to music outdoors at the Pearl and stretching summer pool time into October. He was an awesome and loving father to two intelligent and delightful daughters, Kaytlyn and Emily, both recent graduates of Texas A&M. I remember years ago, seeing a video of Dr. Mann teaching one of his girls to dance country western as she stood on his boots, and he twirled her around the living room.

I had the extraordinary privilege of working very closely for two years with his daughter Emily who is currently in her first year of law school at St. Mary’s. She served as the Pleasanton Express’ college intern and was promoted to reporter and social media manager.

I am supposed to stay impartial about public figures in our community. But truthfully, it would be impossible to not fall deeply in love with this family. And, fall I did.

I am heartbroken. There is no way to make sense of this loss. His absence will be acutely felt. As JPD Chief Eric Kaiser said, he made an indelible mark. His untimely death is a reminder that our time on earth is precious and that we should live everyday as though it could be our last. I do not know many people who live that way, but I truly believe that Dr. Matthew Mann did. Pride, Pride, Eagle Pride.

2 responses to “Mighty good Mann”

  1. Sharon Kotzur says:

    Thanks, Noel, for your article on Dr. Mann. I was one of his biggest supporters. From his first day as Principal at PHS, he consistently pushed the tide in the direction of positivity and kindness. In his dealings with kids and adults alike, he chose to listen openly to each person he met and seek understanding, which in turn grew a culture of pride and caring in the District. His strength of character changed a great many lives slowly but surely. This is such a great loss to everyone who knew him.

  2. Kayla Mann says:

    I want to personally thank the communities of Pleasanton and Jourdanton. I enjoyed reading and hearing your stories and memories of my son. I always thought he was remarkable, of course most parent’s think that of their children. But to realize so many others knew and appreciated the man I raised is heartwarming. Thank you for your kind words and prayers, I know our family has a difficult road ahead. ❤

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