Charles Richard “Dick” Mann was born May 22, 1905, at Phillipsburg, Kansas, to Charles Elliott and Ethel (Lovell) Mann. He grew up in Downs, Kansas, and in 1924 graduated from the high school at Osborne, Kansas. He attended Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas, for two years, where he majored in journalism. On June 30, 1930, he married Leta Lavaughn Watson in Norton, Kansas. The Manns had three children, Marilyn, Janet, and David.
Dick became a member of one of the first survey crews organized in 1929, when the state took over the highway system. Later he did editorial work on newspapers at Norton and Osborne, and at Logan and Osage City, Kansas. In 1941 he joined the secretarial staff of Kansas Governor Payne Ratner. While on the governor’s staff he also served as Kansas correspondent for the national Republican Party magazine and was elected as state publicity director for the Kansas Young Republicans Club.
In 1943 Mann joined the Kansas Farmer magazine staff as associate editor, a position he held for twenty years. For fifteen of those years he directed the Kansas Master Farmer program sponsored by the magazine and served as executive secretary of the Master Farmer organization. Before Kansas Farmer turned the program over to the Kansas State Extension Service and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, he reorganized the concept to recognize the achievements of farm couples rather than individuals, to emphasize the partnership relationship of farm couples.
Dick became public relations director of the Division of Institutional Management, Kansas State Departrnent of Welfare, in 1963. There the State Board of Welfare asked him to design and edit a magazine called Taproots, which interpreted to the public the programs and services of all state welfare institutions, the state’s community mental health centers and the eleven state and 105 county welfare programs and services. He retired June 1, 1971.
Following retirement, Mann sold cars for several months for Tom Mix American Motors in Topeka, Kansas, before two heart attacks sidelined him for a year. He then took a ten-year part time job as editor of The Kansas Churchman, published by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.
During his career, Dick had a wide range of activities. He was a charter member of the Norton Lions Club, served as Senatorial District Chairman and Congressional District Treasurer of the Young Republicans Club, as president of his district’s Editorial Association and as president of the Osborne High School Alumni Association. Over more than a fifty-year period he sang in Methodist Church choirs in Norton, Osborne, Osage City, and Topeka, and served on official church boards in Osborne and Topeka. He was a Sunday School youth department superintendent at the old Trinity Methodist Church in Topeka, and sponsored the Youth Fellowship group there. He also taught at the Lowman Memorial Methodist Church, Topeka, in the 1950s.
At some time in his career, Dick was a member of the Topeka Press Club, the Topeka Camera Club, the Agricultural Editor’s Association, the Soil Conservation Society of America, the Kansas Association of Public Employees, the American Association of Retired Persons, The Kansas Social Welfare Conference, the Kansas Mental Health Association and the Kansas and Topeka Associations for Retarded Citizens. He was a charter member of the Kansas Citizens Safety Council. Dick served as treasurer of the Topeka Public Relations Society, as secretary of the National Association of State Psychiatric Information Specialists and as a Cub Pack chairman. He was a patron member of the Topeka Civic Symphony Society for several years.
Dick served as chairman of the National Monument Committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. This committee carried out a three-year drive to get the National Park Service to establish a national monument to the Great Plains Indians at Waconda Springs, in Mitchell County, Kansas, and to recognize other Kansas historical sites. The monument at Waconda Springs never materialized, but the National Park Service did tour Kansas historical sites and later acquired and is now restoring Forts Larned and Scott. Mann also served on the Chamber’s tourist council and chaired a special committee to promote wheat products.
For many years Mann served on the board of the Alpha Tau Omega Building Corporation in Manhattan, Kansas, which remodeled one chapter house and later built the new home now occupied by the Kansas State University chapter. Mann served as president of the corporation the year the group voted to build the new house. Because of that and other contributions, he was voted as alumnus of the year. He also served as a consultant for an advanced degree program in mental health mass communications in the journalism department at Kansas State University and for the public relations committee of the Kansas Mental Health Association. Dick was also on the staff of a Writer’s Conference sponsored at Kansas State University by the Department of English.
During his twenty years on Kansas Farmer magazine, Mann persistently promoted soil and water conservation and the development of rural water lines as the basic ingredients for a sound agriculture. He was a panelist on the first soil conservation program ever broadcast by WIBW-TV in Topeka and one of his Kansas Farmer articles on stubble mulch farming was given worldwide distribution by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
When he was editor of Taproots, Dick worked equally hard to remove the stigma which the public then attached to mental illness, mental retardation and poverty. His articles and pictures on these subjects were designed to secure new understanding and support for those afflicted. Several of his articles were given national distribution by the Psychiatric Reporter magazine. One article on social welfare, concerning the first 100 years of the Kansas Mental Health program, was included in a textbook written for social workers, Kansas, It’s Power and It’s Glory, published in Topeka by the late John Peach.
Following a stroke, Dick Mann died July 19, 1995, at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka. He was interred in the Sunset Cemetery in Manhattan.