This week’s feature is with former Savannah State football player Gary Manor. Manor is a Savannah native who graduated from Windsor Forest High School as well as SSU. “I grew up on the west side of Savannah in Cloverdale,” he says.
He is the son of Johnnie and Agnes M. Silbert.
“My parents actually met at Savannah State. My mother, Agnes M. Sibert, is a 1956 graduate of Paine College. She worked in Lockett Hall as dorm director. She retired from the state of Georgia as a Quality Control Reviewer for Department of Family and Children Services. My father, who died in 1995, was a Navy veteran and worked at Savannah State as an electrician. He went on to own his own electrical business and helped found a Black Electrician membership organization here in Savannah.”
Sports became a part of Manor’s life when he was eight years old. “I played in the Police Athletic League (PALS) Organization. PALS were pretty much the top dogs in local recreation sports. We often battled the Boys Club for championships. I played football, basketball and baseball for PALS. We traveled over Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Bo Levett was director and coach, along with several other great men in the community.”
He continued to play sports in high school. “I played football, basketball and ran track.”
His play on the football field drew in recruiters from several schools but in the end, he decided on SSU.
“I was a pretty good student in high school and was recruited by Bethune-Cookman, The Citadel, Presbyterian and West Georgia. I was offered to walk-on at Auburn and Southern Mississippi.”
When asked why he wanted to play for the Tigers he responded with “I chose to attend Savannah State for a couple reasons. First, being a local boy I had connections with Savannah State through PALS and local leaders in the community. My mother had worked at Savannah State for a while and I used to run around campus playing and watching all the pretty girls. Coach (Frank) Ellis recruited me and never waivered. Also, at the time there was a ton of local talent staying home going to Savannah State. I wanted to be a part of starting a great tradition here at home at my school. “
At Savannah State, Manor majored in Mechanical Engineering Technology and received his degree in 1986. He took advantage of the free ride and often found himself on the Dean’s List. “I realized that I had been afforded a tremendous opportunity to get a free education and many people would love to be in my shoes.”
Manor, who played linebacker, enjoyed the brotherhood with his teammates. “Playing alongside people like Reggie Tindal and Tim Jordan, Cecil Newton, Jasper Hood, Larry
Winkfield. Sam Hicks, Calvin “Chops” Parence, Earnest Miller, Luther Mayfield, Larry Strozier, James Brown and Jo Jo Foster were all outstanding and very talented teammates. I am extremely honored to have gone to battle for the blue and orange with all my teammates. “
Manor tried baseball in college but things didn’t work out. “I primarily stuck with football, although I did run track one year as form of rehab and conditioning, after a season ending knee injury. After my football eligibility had expired, Coach (John) Myles invited me to tryout for baseball. I made the team, but realized my baseball skills had diminished and were not up to par, so I did not stay with the team.”
Following graduation, Manor went to officer candidate school and joined the Navy as a commissioned officer where he served from October 1986 to January 1990. He also stayed reserve until 1995.
Manor and his wife, the former Sonia Smalls, met in high school where they dated off and on. They have four children ranging from ages 19 to 24 and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in December.
These days, Manor works as a crane EMT ( Electrical/ Mechanical Technician ) at the Georgia Ports Authority, a job he has had since 2015. Prior to that, he spent a total of twenty four years working as an Electrical and Instrumentation Control Technician in Baltimore, Maryland and Jesup, Ga.