Mary Ann Mannino, 69, poet, teacher

Posted: November 26, 2012

Mary Ann Vigilante Mannino, 69, a poet, teacher, and author, died Tuesday, Nov. 20, of breast cancer at the Chestnut Hill home in which she had lived for 37 years.

Dr. Mannino was an associate professor of English at Temple University, where she taught for more than two decades. She took a personal interest in the students who weren't quite ready for college, said her daughter, Jennifer O'Donnell.

Their home was "like the United Nations," with students of all races and religions visiting for consultation, O'Donnell said. "My brother and I were her children; she called the students her 'other kids.' "

A Germantown native who lived in Mount Airy before moving to Chestnut Hill, Dr. Mannino graduated from Cecilian Academy in Philadelphia in 1961.

She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. That year, she married Edward Mannino. They later divorced.

While raising two children, Dr. Mannino never stopped teaching, writing, and studying.

She earned a master's degree in English and creative writing from Temple University in 1986 and a doctorate in literature and writing composition from Temple in 1995. Her teaching career at Temple began in the mid-1980s. She became an associate professor in July 2009 and in 2010 received an award for her contributions to first-year student writing.

She became ill with cancer in 2007, but held it in check with treatment. As she fought, she filled notebooks with her reflections and poems.

In a poem dated Jan. 28 titled "Terminal," she grappled with the news that she was dying:

Terminal is a place where

People go

carrying suitcases and backpacks

pillows and throws

bags of gifts

satchels of plans

to board a plane

or a bus

to visit a faraway place

Fiji, Iceland, or Malta

places with hot springs in the snow

or sometimes

they are going home

to taste mama's pizza 'iena

have a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon

with papa

see the budding fig tree

his treasured tomato plants.

Terminal is a place you go to

so you can leave

the place you are living in.

She also wrote fiction that appeared in the Alabama Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other literary journals. She received an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award in 2001.

In the days before Mrs. Mannino's death, 100 of her friends, many of them former students, came to visit.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mannino is survived by a son, Robert; and a grandson.

A viewing was set for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, at the Jacob F. Ruth Funeral Home, 8413 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia. Visitation from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Our Mother of Consolation Parish, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Philadelphia, will be followed by an 11 a.m. service at the church. Interment will be in Holy Sepulchre, Cheltenham.

Contributions may be made to a memorial scholarship for Mrs. Mannino and her late brother. Checks may be written to Temple University, with Joseph L. Vigilante and Mary Ann Mannino Scholarship Fund in the memo section, and sent to Frances Hollingsworth, 1221 Anderson Hall, 1114 W. Berks St., Temple University, Philadelphia 19122.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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