Norris Levern Manous

1912 - 1948

Levern Manous, a clarinetist and violinist, taught music at two academies in the U.S. and briefly at what is now the Adventist university in Chile. He was also a printer and practiced that trade while obtaining his education in Seventh-day Adventist schools.

Levern was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the only child of Arthur Leander and Tennie Hughes Manous. His father was a printer and bookbinder who owned a print shop where his son learned the trade which he then used to work his way through college. In 1929 when he enrolled as a student at Southern Junior College, now Southern Adventist University, he asked to be placed with a Cuban roommate in the dormitory so that he could learn to speak Spanish.

A clarinetist and violinist, Levern played in both the band and orchestra at SJC and enjoyed a reputation as an accomplished clarinet performer, often featured as a soloist in concerts by the ensembles. After he left SJC he traveled to Washington, D.C. where he studied clarinet with a member of the Marine band, a group he had once dreamed of joining.

On a return visit to the college in 1936, when Manous and a flutist gave a Saturday night program, a writer in the SJC news section of Southern Tidings, the conference magazine, noted that their ability was "comparable to that of professional artists." During the 1936-1937 school year Manous was at the Pisgah School, later Mount Pisgah Academy, in Candler, North Carolina, where he started a band.

During his time at SJC and Pisgah, he was strongly encouraged by David Robert Edwards, a professor at SJC, to finish his education. After checking with several colleges he chose Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, at least partly because he could count on steady employment at the college press.

The family moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, in 1938, and over the course of the next seven years he finally earned a college degree. He played in the band and orchestra under John J. Hafner and was again featured as a soloist in band concerts. Manous graduated with honors in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in music.

At that time he accepted a position to teach Spanish and serve as band and choir director and music department chair at Auburn Academy. Two years later he responded to an invitation to teach music and French as a missionary at the Adventist College in Chile. While at EMC he had studied French and was uniquely qualified to teach it to Spanish-speaking students in Chile because of the fluency in Spanish he had acquired years earlier at SJC.

Manous and his family arrived there in September 1947 and immediately gained acceptance by the students and staff. His time in Chile, however, would end tragically less than a year later when he died in April 1948. Shortly before his death he had a severe intestinal attack and was taken to a clinic and then returned home where he seemed to be recovering. The director of the school would later write:

His death completely surprised us . . . we had hoped he would recover his health. He took walks and worked a little in his garden for diversion and this gave us much hope; nevertheless, on the 18th (April) Sunday at 5:30 in the morning, his wife surprised me by asking that I come and pray.

Brother Manous was much worse and on Monday the 19th we took him to the hospital in Chillan and put him in a paid room. The doctors had a consultation and they came to the conclusion in which they all agreed, that he had a tumor on the brain. Whether it was a tumor or not, only God knows.

We had the funeral service, and they say it was beautiful. All of the students were transported to Chillan and there was a long and impressive procession in the city. The passing of brother Manous has left marks of deep sorrow on the students, for he was a man greatly beloved in our college.

Levern had married Amy Mangel, a talented, self-taught amateur musician, in September 1934. By the time they moved to Chile they had had three children, Ardena, Edward, and Carlyle, the last having been born while his father was in school at EMC.

The family returned to the U.S. that spring, and Amy taught for the next ten years in the grade school at Little Creek Academy, a self-supporting Adventist school in Tennessee.

Although she started teaching without a degree, she completed a degree in elementary education in the summers at nearby Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, seventeen years after she began studying. She would continue to provide their children with musical opportunities and challenges, a goal that she and her husband had purposed to do before his death. Carlyle recently described how music was a way of life for the family from the beginning:

My mother played piano, organ, a little cello and some flute and clarinet as well as ocarina and possibly guitar. Music was a way of life for us. When my father was living, he had started my older brother on violin, my sister on cello, and me on viola, wanting to have a family string quartet. Unfortunately, that didn't work out.

When I was in fourth grade, my mother pulled out two clarinets and gave them to my brother and me and said, "Why don't you try to learn these?" While my brother learned to play the clarinet and played up through academy, I hated it, and not long after that she hauled out a trumpet and said, "OK, try this." And I really took to that. We all took piano lessons for years and I also continued playing the viola all through grade school, academy, and college years.

Both my sister and I became career musicians. She studied music at Southern and then completed a degree at the McPhail College of Music in Minnesota. She has taught keyboard ever since.

In the summer of 1996, Carlyle, who had completed a doctorate in French horn performance and taught at two Adventist colleges, traveled to Adventist University in Chile to visit and teach. He enjoyed the stimulation of guest teaching and speaking, performing as a soloist, and visiting with students and teachers. There were some poignant moments also. It was his first trip back to a part of his past that had ended tragically almost fifty years earlier with the death of his father, whose gravesite he was able to visit.

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Sources: Interview and email exchanges with Carlyle Manous, August 2012; Southern Tidings, 20 December 1933, 8; 5 September 1934, 8 (wedding); 18 December 1935, 8; 11 March 1936, 8; 3 March 1937, 4 (Pisgah); The Student Movement of Emmanuel Missionary College, 15 December, 1938, 3 (soloist in band concert); Lake Union Herald, 12 June 1945, 2 (honors at EMC); 1930 and 1940 U.S. Federal Census Records; "Sad News From South America," Review and Herald, 13 May 1948, 24; Obituary, Review and Herald, 27 May 1948, 20; Review and Herald, 16 July 1950, 28; Southern Tidings, 11 March 1937, and South American Bulletin, extended obituary by R.R. Fighur, July-August 1948 (quote of school director).