Army veteran ‘Bobblehead Bob’ Manak dies at 57 By MARC BONA
CLEVELAND, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — One of the first things Bob Manak did after he learned he had months to live was to make other people smile.
He did that by making sure his prized collection of more than 1,500 bobbleheads would serve a purpose other than gathering dust. Manak donated the nodding figures to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee in February.
Manak died Wednesday, March 22, from complications of colon cancer. He was 57.
His hobby was collections, from scouring flea markets for the colorful bobbleheads that filled his West Side Cleveland home to displaying shot glasses, magnets and other trinkets. But mostly he collected friends.
News of the bobblehead donation drew dozens of collectors to inquire whether Manak would sell some of his collectibles. But it wasn’t his first brush with fame.
In 1983, he graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in science. One of his fraternity brothers was Drew Carey. Manak liked to tell people that he can be seen in a photo included in Carey’s 1997 book, “Dirty Jokes and Beer.”
The impish fun of bobbleheads was a stark contrast to Manak’s first career. He participated in ROTC in college then served seven years in the Army’s artillery division and as a quartermaster in Korea and Germany. For much of his career he worked in government service, in the Veterans Administration and then as a claims examiner in the war-hazards unit in the Department of Labor. He adjudicated claims for contractors working for the government in war zones.
His second career reflected his love of Cleveland sports.
He worked for the Browns, the Indians and then for 18 years with the Cavaliers, roaming Gund Arena as an usher.
“He loved Cleveland sports teams so much,” his sister Caroll Comeau said.
In fact, that love of his teams will be with him at his funeral. He will be buried in Cleveland Browns pajama pants, a Chief Wahoo sweatshirt and with his Cavs championship ring.
A pair of bobbleheads — including one that the Indians recently had made in his likeness — will be placed in his casket, along with poker chips and pinochle cards. Manak loved traveling and had accounts at several casinos that he had planned to visit one final time.