Faces in the Crowd Leo Maneke

October 5, 2017

Aaron Michell

Faith is a big part of Leo Maneke’s life. And not only because he’s a lifelong Detroit Lions fan. He’s had his ups and downs, but he continues to be a believer – in God, in the Detroit Lions, in himself, and in his family and community.
Leo has lived his entire life in the Marion area. He’s always been a Marion Football fan, and was an assistant for a couple years as well. On July 26th, 2014, he married the love of his life, Stacy, and they continue to reside right here in Marion. These days you can find Leo and Stacy actively involved with the Community of Christ Church just south of Marion.
We caught up with Leo recently and talked about a little bit of everything. He shared with us some stories, some opinions, and some insight into what makes him more than just another face in the crowd.

Marion Press: What have you been up to?
Leo: Working. I just got done helping my dad do some renovations on his house – we’re not fully done with it but I’ve been working on it with him for about a month. It’s down on 18 Mile off 50th Ave. We’ve been doing a lot of fixing it up: put a new shower in, put up some paneling – we’re trying to make it look a little better. And then I work in the mailroom at Cadillac News putting all the packages together – the hours I get are kind of random so it can make things difficult.

Leo Maneke

Leo Maneke

MP: What are your memories of growing up in Marion?
Leo: Playing football back in high school. It was the coolest part of high school – even though we didn’t win many games it was still cool to get out there and play and have fun. In 8th, 9th and 11th grades I played defensive tackle. The second part of my junior year I went to right guard and was the kicker. My senior year I moved to left guard and was the kicker. I graduated in ’06. And I helped the football team for two years after high school. But I’ve got too much going on [to help] right now. Maybe one day I’ll go back at it and try it again.

MP: I heard you once had a run in with a cow?
Leo: Yes. One time I hit a cow with my van on 70th Ave. up by 22 Mile Road. That was back in 2008.
I was actually on my way back home from college – I was doing a work-study at the time, where I got out of school and then I did the work-study at the facilities. Anyways there was an Amish family that lived at the corner of 70th and 22 Mile and they had a bunch of cows.
While I was on the way home – I’d take the backway home like I always would – and I was just driving along minding my own business, and all of sudden there was this huge herd of cows in the middle of the road. And I’m trying to dodge these cows – it’s so dark, and I’m slamming on the breaks trying to dodge these cows. And then I finally got around ‘em and so I start speeding up again. And all of a sudden this black steer just jumps out of the middle-of-nowhere, and BOOM! I’m like, “ohhhh no.” That cow went flying. I call my brother and my dad and I’m like, “I need help – I just crushed the van and hit a cow.”
My dad’s like, “Call 911.” So, I called 911 and I’m talking to dispatch and she’s like, “Are there any other casualties?” I think she thought I said I hit a car. But anyways, they sent an officer out to make sure I was alright.
So, the Amish family that lived there, a couple of the kids come out – apparently their dad was gone for the night – but they come out and saw the cow that I hit and they said, “At least it wasn’t the good one.” But apparently, they forgot to close the gate to the barn and so that’s why all the cows got out.
MP: What else keeps you busy these days?
Leo: Starting back in May I decided to learn how to play the guitar. I’m really enjoying it. I played Sunday at [Community of Christ] church – I was a little shaky but I did it. And I’ve only been playing since May. I’m self-taught, but I’ve got a friend at work who plays guitar.
I’ve been going to the Community of Christ since 2011. We had a reunion this summer up at the Park of the Pines. It’s where people get together from congregations all around Michigan – some within the local area, others are quite spread out: Hillman, Alpena, Cheboygen, Petoskey, Traverse City. We all came together for a week. We have a lot of activities that go on: prayer service in the morning, all-camp worship, swimming. Then in the evening we’d have our evening worship. In the evenings they’d have campfires and the coffee houses would be open – guest ministries will come talk to people and answer questions.
The thing that I really love about it is just being there with friends and meeting new people within the church, and being able to explore new aspects and interpretations of God that people want to share. We share a lot of testimony. It’s just overall a great experience.
I didn’t start going to church until October of 2010. I was having some struggles in my life and my friend Billy had invited me to come – Sandy Merrifield was giving the sermon, and it was about forgiveness. I’ve been going ever since. Something about going there was just a blessing to me. And then Stacy started going with me – we got baptized in the beginning of January. It was the best decision that I’ve ever made. I found out that God was within my life, but also that God also has a purpose for all of us. Just being there with my friends and the people who love me and support me and help me out with everything I go through is a blessing on its own.

MP: And you’re a Lions fan, right?
Leo: Oh yeah. Big Lions fan. I think they’re gonna do well this year. I’m still really upset about the Falcons game – that was a disappointing loss. That should’ve been a win. Should’ve been a win.
I was pretty upset that the [last-second] touchdown got called back. I remember that year they went 0-16, and it was like, yeah, big deal, they [stink]. But now, when anything bad goes their way, now it’s easily upsetting.
But next week they play against the Panthers – who beat the Super Bowl Champs (Patriots, this past week) – so how’s this going to go? Are we going to go beat these guys? Or are we going to have a disappointing loss? I know the defense has been playing very well – I mean, take the Atlanta game for instance – they had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. And they had the fumble recovery at the end of the Vikings game to secure the game.

MP: What kind of music do you listen to? Seen any good movies lately?
Leo: Mainly country music. But I’ll listen to classic rock. I think the only movie I went and watched this year was the Power Rangers Movie when it was in theaters. I thought it was okay. It didn’t follow the original series – they were basically attempting a re-boot. At the end, they had Kimberly and Tommy taking pictures, so that was like their cameo.

MP: Okay, last question. Who was your favorite teacher growing up?
Leo: Mrs. Henderson was my favorite teacher – she used to be Mrs. Robinson. She was my favorite.

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