LA MARQUE — Former councilman and girls softball advocate Sedonie “Sonny” Manuel died Monday after a long illness. He was 76.
Manuel served on the La Marque City Council from 1997 to 2001 and served one term as mayor pro tem.
Lifelong friend and former city councilman Lloyd Criss said Manuel was a “real liberal-minded and kindhearted guy who cared about people.”
The two lived across the street form one another after Criss’ family moved to La Marque. Both were heavily involved in their respective unions.
Manuel worked for more than two decades for Amoco’s Texas City refinery and was a leader in the OCAW union, now the United Steelworkers.
Manuel and Criss would eventually serve on the City Council together.
“No one was as kind hearted and cared about helping the little guy as Sonny did,” Criss said.
Manuel’s love for his home in La Marque showed even in his final days, his son Walter Manuel said.
Even as his illness progressed, he insisted on coming home from the hospital, Walter Manuel said.
Before getting into politics, Sonny Manuel was one of the driving forces in establishing a softball program at La Marque High School.
He pushed for the sport in large part because he coached his daughter Becky, a multisport athlete. It wasn’t as easy as at first thought, even though La Marque had to expand its girl’s sports because of the federal mandates under Title IX.
Eventually, he and Jessie Castro convinced then-La Marque superintendent Mike Moses to urge the school board to add the sport. The district did and several years later, the Lady Cougars won a state title in the sport that Manuel devoted his time to see played in La Marque.
He and his wife, Maggie, were active in support of the La Marque Library and other city activities.
The couple was married for 55 years and before that dated for three.
“We dated all through school up until I graduated,” Maggie Manuel said. “I graduated on a Friday and we got married that following Saturday.”
The couple had three sons and a daughter.
“Dad was really was a great dad to all of us kids,” Walter Manuel said.
Maggie Manuel said others often remarked about their longevity as a couple.
“Sonny would used to say that I was like Blue Bell Rocky Road ice cream,” she said. “I had no idea what he was talking about, but he always came up with sayings like that. It sounded like a romantic thing to say.”
Funeral services for Manuel are scheduled for Friday.