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Maner Thorpe

Maner Thorpe Obituary
Thorpe, Maner L.
May 2, 1930 - February 19, 2012
Maner L. Thorpe passed away in Santa Barbara on February 19, 2012 at the age of 81 of complications of diabetes, in the presence of his loving family. He was devoted to his wife and descendants, and to his children's and grandchildren's education. He will always be remembered for his eccentric humor, his encyclopedic knowledge of cultural and historical minutiae, his command of the English language, and knowledge of many foreign languages. Maner was born in Los Angeles on May 2, 1930, the second child of Spencer R. Thorpe and Lawton Hite Thorpe. He spent his childhood in Los Angeles and at the family ranch in Santa Paula. He attended Los Angeles public schools, spent a year at the Thacher School in Ojai, and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1948. His young adult years were a time of searching; he attended Stanford University and The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, before joining the Air Force in 1950 along with his two brothers. He attended the Aviation Cadets program and was commissioned a Lieutenant. During the Korean War, he was stationed in Japan with the 339th Fighter Squadron, flying F-94 jet fighters. While there, he was introduced to Michi Matsushita, second child of Sotojiro and Chiyo Matsushita of Tokyo. They were married there on October 9, 1953. After he was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1953, Maner and Michi moved to Berkeley, California where Maner resumed his education. Their son Geoffrey was born there in 1955. Maner graduated from UC Berkeley with highest honors in Anthropology in 1957, and took up a new career as an academic. He attended Harvard University's Graduate school as a Ph.D. candidate, moving the family to Massachusetts, where their daughter Frances was born in 1959. Following Maner's receipt of a Ford Foundation grant to research life in a Korean village, the family moved to Tokyo in 1961, while Maner traveled back and forth from there to a village in South Korea. There he lived among the locals during the time period before that country began its great industrial modernization. In Japan, his children got to know their maternal grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. In 1963, the family returned to the States, settling again in Massachusetts. In 1964, Maner began his teaching career as an Assistant Professor at Columbia University in New York City, and the family relocated to northern New Jersey. In 1966, Maner was appointed an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the family moved for the last time to Montecito, where they still live. Maner taught at the University for a number of years. He finished his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Southern California in 1983. In middle age, he was fortunate to be able to retire from academia, and in his later life, he pursued his interests in automobiles, including a Morgan sports car and a Mercedes Benz, and genealogy. He took pride in his family's descent from American colonists including Patrick Henry, his Southern heritage, and the family's deep roots in California, starting with his great grandfather's arrival in San Francisco in 1850. He was active in genealogical societies including the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. He also had a lifelong interest in Mongolia and Central Asia. A trip to Mongolia in 1999 was a highlight of his life. He was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings Caroline, Spencer and Francis. He is survived by his widow Michi, his son Geoffrey of Martinez, California, daughter Frances (Gary Rosenberg) of Santa Barbara, and grandchildren Emma and Simon Thorpe of Boise, Idaho, and James Rosenberg of Santa Barbara.
At his request, no service will be held. Memorial arrangements will be announced later. Donations in Maner's memory may be made to the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society's Friends of the Sahyun Library.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 26, 2012
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