Margaret R.B. Manson
May 30, 1926 – June 25, 2020
Margaret R. Birtwell Manson (94) passed away peacefully of natural causes at home on Thursday, June 25. Margaret, known to many as “Jo”, was born to Helen & William Birtwell in Philadelphia, but she and her sister, Helen, grew up blessed by Asbury Park beach childhood. Her father taught her to bend wood for their garage-built boat -The Peanut Shell, collect bait under the Shark River RR bridge, and catch stripers from the surf. She loved body-surfing and continued to do so well into her eighties. From the beach, Jo threw a stone that hit the Moro Castle’s burnt hull, watched the Hindenburg on its way to Lakehurst pass over head during Trinity Episcopal Strawberry Festival, listening to famous big bands play exciting, new music, and sold or gave away candy and ice cream to sailors along the blacked-out boardwalk during WW2. It was also on the Asbury Boardwalk that she boldly approached Babe Ruth, asked for an autograph, and took his picture with her Brownie Camera. In high school she had developed professional drafting skills at her father’s civil engineering firm and was in demand for construction projects throughout the Shore. She was an expert in catching brass rings at the Casino’s merry-go-round. As a high school cheerleader, her image was used for a national Eastman Kodak publication’s cover. The first girl to be the official score keeper for the Varsity Boys’ Baseball Team, Jo was denied a sport’s letter because she was a girl: however, she persisted and was awarded one more than fifty years later. During that year with the team, she captured the star second baseman’s heart, and Hal Manson would remain her forever love. After graduation, at the University of Rhode Island, she was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority. The couple was married on August 5, 1945. At Murray State in KY, where Hal went to school on the GI bill, Jo was the Homecoming Queen. Within three years they settled in Manasquan, where Hal was a teacher and football coach. Jo welcomed all football team members to sprawl on the living room floor, watch game films, and eat legendary homemade treats. She was the team’s photographer, never hesitating to scale old rusty ladders on the side of buildings or stand on hot truck roofs and hand crank the camera to capture the action. Later she spliced and edited the films for individual senior recognition at yearly award dinners. She and her husband were mentors at weekly school dances and at Sea Girt Lighthouse canteens. There they counseled the area’s youth about grades, dating, unexpected pregnancies, polio outbreaks, and through one young man’s serious illness and death. They welcomed Vick Kubu, a player and later MHS coach himself, into their home and family to live after the death of his mother. Family life on Fletcher Avenue saw all of Jo’s artistic talents bloom. Hal and Jo had three children, and Jo was busy being a Brownie Leader and Little League Scorekeeper. She won many Ladies’ Club holiday decorating contests with Santa riding a rocket on the roof to massive Christmas wreaths. She taught Sunday School at St. Uriel’s, ran the spring games at fairs, often was a class mother, and always an enthusiastic fan at every game. She made the five-tier wedding cake for one daughter and the wedding dress of the other. She painted local landscapes in oils and watercolor, knit cable sweaters, and used her calligraphy skills to personalize Bibles, diplomas, and resolutions. Jo was also an astute business woman. In the late 1950’s, on summer weekends she rented bedrooms to young professional girls and made and decorated event cakes. She was often top salesperson at the real estate office of Henry Schwier, Sea Girt. In 1965, she opened a highly successful maternity and children’s clothing store, The Plus One Shop, in Manasquan. She was the chairperson of the town committee which first decided to plant trees on Main Street, became the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and helped plan many events for the town’s Diamond Jubilee and Bicentennial Celebrations. Home life included family and block BBQ’s, three weddings, Jo’s mother, Helen Birtwell, who lived with them for over twenty-five years, and eventually the addition of grandchildren. In 1989, she, Hal, and Helen moved to Arizona for health and family. Jo continued her real estate career until she was in her eighties, crafted silver and turquoise jewelry, designed and made teddy bears, and helped strangers become friends. Grandchildren sweetened the days, and she enjoyed showing them the red rocks in Sedona. She adored cute dogs, and she thought they were all cute, but she thought the cutest and smartest was Rusty, her “Chiweenie-wow-wow.” In 2016, Jo returned to New Jersey, living in Ocean Grove and recently Pt. Pleasant. She enjoyed Increased visits with family that now included over twenty great-grandchildren, who loved hearing her shocking stories of long-ago adventures. She eagerly taught many to play dominos and blackjack, gave away teddy bears, and made sure they knew she once had a motorcycle license. She was an avid computer user, and her iPhone remained at her bedside ready for the next text message or shared photo. Jo was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Manasquan and confidently faced her physical trials with Christian faith. She was grateful for her many blessings of this life and her eternal home. Acknowledging her declining health, she recently told her family that she was anxious to meet loved ones in Heaven, so she was dressed, ready to go, and there weren’t any red lights! She will be missed everyday by her children and their families- Son-Rock and Peggy Manson: Grandchildren Kerri Manson (Addie, Connor) and Scott and Katelyn Manson (Maeve & Baby Girl on the way); Daughter-Margaret Joanne and David Cotton: Grandchildren: Allison and Paul Baker (Adam, Luke, &Thomas) and Daniel and Jessica Cotton (Maddie, Selah Margaret, Micah, & Emmy); Daughter- Kathe and Jerry Kiel: Grandchildren: Brian and Louise Schneider (Katharis, Jedidiah, & Baby Boy on the way), Steven and Jessica Schneider (Lyla Jane, Ethan), and Will and Sheree Schneider (Lauren, Matthew, & Caleb); Allison Kiel (Emma & Avanna) and Brian and Nicole Kiel (Bryce, Natalie, Beckett, Noelle). Margaret Manson was preceded by her husband Hal (2009) and her beloved grandson, Ryan Manson (2019). Memorial gifts may be made to the Ryan Manson Trust 125 Fletcher Avenue Manasquan NJ 08742. A private service is planned for a later date.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Margaret R.B. Manson
July 2, 2020
It is real hard to forget your Mom and Dad.When I got to know them thru Little league and then doing plumbing work for then.
Just knowing them and your Mother as a real go person.
So Sorry for you and your sisters.
John H. (Jack) Jansen Jr.