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Judge Edward J. ("Nick") McManus

Cedar Rapids

Judge Edward J. ("Nick") McManus died on March 20, 2017, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the age of 97.
Judge McManus is survived by his sons, David (Mary) McManus, an attorney in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, John (Christine) McManus, an architect in Boston, Mass., Tom (Jean) McManus, a professor of art and design in New York City, and Dennis (LuAnne) McManus, a medical doctor in Springfield, Ill.; stepson, John (Laura) Locher, an attorney and teacher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and stepdaughter, Anne (Herb, a Lutheran minister) Knudten, Grinnell, Iowa; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his brother, Richard (Marjorie) McManus, San Diego, Calif.; nieces, including Sister Julia Huiskamp, East St. Louis, Ill.; and nephews, including Craig (Charlotte) McManus, Davenport, Iowa.
He was preceded in death by his older sister, Jean Huiskamp, and brother, Neil; his son, Edward W., an accountant in Berkeley, Calif.; his first wife, Sally Hassett McManus, mother of his children; and his second wife, Esther Locher Kanealy.
Judge McManus was born Feb. 9, 1920, in Keokuk, Iowa, to Edward W. and Kathleen (O'Connor) McManus. He attended parochial and public schools in Keokuk. After graduating from Keokuk High School in 1936, where he pole vaulted on the track team, he attended St. Ambrose College in Davenport for two years, transferring to the University of Iowa (UI), Iowa City, where he received his B.A. degree in 1940.
At UI, he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi social fraternity, and in law school, a member and Magister of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, which had its quarters in the Law Commons on the west side of the river in Iowa City. Among the approximately 15 members of his legal fraternity were Jack Eicherly, Holstein, Iowa, former captain of the football team; Nile Kinnick, Adel, Iowa, Heisman Trophy winner; Jim Dower, Marengo, Iowa, radio sports announcer for the games; and Bill Stuart, Chariton, Iowa, later federal district judge in the Southern District of Iowa. His legal education at UI was accelerated by World War II. In October 1941, he was admitted to the Iowa bar, and three months later he received his J.D. degree at the age of 21. He practiced law briefly with his father and older brother, Neil, in Keokuk, before enlisting in the U.S. Naval Air Corps in March 1942. He and 30 other young men who attended UI (known as the "Flying Hawkeyes") started flight training at Lambert Field, St. Louis, Mo., June 1, 1942. These men completed their flight training at NAS, Corpus Christi, Texas, receiving their commissions and wings in early 1943.
Judge McManus served as a flight instructor in a multi-engine sea and land-based aircraft at Corpus (1943-1944) and as a pilot in the Marauder Towing Unit at Naval air stations in Florida (1944-1946), providing high-speed targets for operational air-to-air gunnery training of Navy fighter pilots over the Atlantic.
Upon retiring from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant, he returned to the practice of law in Keokuk with his father and older brother, Neil. His younger brother, Richard, joined the firm in 1953. Judge McManus served as city attorney for Keokuk for 10 years and authored the city's municipal code.
In 1948, he married Sally Hassett (deceased 1986), of Keokuk, and had five sons. He later married Esther Yothers Locher Kanealy (deceased 2008), who brought her two children to the union. Judge McManus became active in the Democratic Party, and in 1954 was elected to the Iowa Senate, where he had the seat of his grandfather. In 1958, he was elected lieutenant governor (LG) of Iowa. After his term as LG, he was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor in 1960.
Retiring from politics and returning to his law practice, his friend, President John F. Kennedy, in July 1962 appointed him chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa, which he served for 23 years before taking senior status in 1965. He was the first native-born Iowan appointed to the federal district court for the Northern District of Iowa.
Though he could reside anywhere of his choosing in the Northern District, he selected Cedar Rapids, the largest city and the most centrally located for the court to serve the most people. When he arrived in the district in July 1962, there was no court headquarters and only one federal court employee (today over 165). The functions of the court were spread throughout the district, with the clerk and marshal in Dubuque, probation in Waterloo, bankruptcy in Fort Dodge, U.S. Attorney in Sioux City, and judge in Greene.
Judge McManus soon established Cedar Rapids as the headquarters of the court and began the organizational effort of putting all its functions under one roof. He also instituted pretrial proceedings, a monthly motion list, deadlines for completion of discovery, filing of motions, settlements, restrictions on continuances and oral arguments, and specific trial dates. These changes reduced the resolution of many cases from years to months.
In his tenure of 55 years on the federal bench, his judicial philosophy was guided by Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to bring about a just, speedy and inexpensive resolution of every case before him, with no backlog.
During his long service, Judge McManus enjoyed the work but had two principal regrets: since President Lyndon Johnson, federal judges have had to sue the government for pay increases; and his failure to serve under a Democratically appointed chief justice of the United States. At his death, he was the third longest-serving federal district trial judge in the history of the United States.
He notes with fond appreciation the loyal service of his secretary, Debbie (Sutton) Frank, Lisbon, Iowa, for 27 years; and also his career law clerk, John A. Nash, Iowa City, Iowa, for 25 years. He often was heard to state that without his secretary he couldn't find anything, and without his law clerk he didn't know anything.
He also notes, with appreciation and affection, his longtime friend of over 50 years, Carleen Grandon.
Judge McManus was a member of St. Matthew's Catholic Church. He was a member of the Cedar Rapids Country Club for 54 years. Golf was his hobby.
A public visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home, Chapel of Memories State Room. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, March 24, at St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, with a reception to follow at Cedar Memorial Park Family Center. Burial will take place at a later date at the Keokuk National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Daughters of Charity, East St. Louis, Ill., or Judge Edward J. McManus Law Scholarship Fund at the Iowa Law School Foundation. Condolences can be sent to www.cedarmemorial.com.