Janet Manion died Tuesday night at Doylestown Hospital after a battle with cancer, her family said Wednesday morning.
Manion, of Doylestown Township, founded the Travis Manion Foundation in honor of her son, who was killed while deployed with the U.S. Marines. Travis died in Iraq on April 29, 2007, nearly five years ago to the day that his mother passed.
Janet leaves behind her husband, Tom, a retired U.S. Marine and a Republican who ran for Congress in 2008. Their daughter, Ryan, serves as a Doylestown Township Supervisor and is the executive director of the foundation her mother started in her brother's name.
Like so many others who knew Janet, State Rep. Marguerite Quinn remembered her Wednesday as a woman of strength and vision.
"What most touched me was how they took the tragedy of Travis’ death and had a vision for a foundation to help returning vets," Quinn said. "Travis’ legacy and now Janet’s as well has certainly left their mark on this community."
Quinn remembered seeing Janet Manion last year at the the foudation organized in Doylestown to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Few of the thousands of people watching Janet that day knew that she had just been told she had cancer.
"She had just been given this very difficult news literally within the week," Quinn said. "And she was still out there, leading on."
The Manions' son, Travis, was a U.S. Marine, but he wasn't the only fighter in the family.
State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney said Wednesday that Janet Manion could mix it up with the best of them. She was strongwilled, determined and never afraid to let people know what she thought, McIlhinney said.
"She was a firecracker," he said, laughing. "When she saw something she didn't like, she was not shy about saying so - and that included my votes. We would engage in some real political dialogue, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It wasn't ever mean-spirited or angry, and she ended every conversation the same way - 'I'll still be watching you.' "
Barbara Lyons said the Doylestown community has lost a true friend.
"She was a warm, wonderful lady, and such a valuable member of the community. She will be greatly missed," said Lyons, who serves on the Doylestown Township board of supervisors with Ryan Manion.
Former Bucks County Congressman Jim Greenwood is close to the Manion family and serves on the board of the Travis Manion Foundation. On Wednesday, he sent his condolences from Washington, D.C., where he is head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
"The Manion family has demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of tremendous loss and my heart goes out to Tom," Greenwood said.
In February, Janet Manion was named a national finalist for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors, a program of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. She was chosen for the creation and leadership of the Travis Manion Foundation.
"Janet Manion’s dedication to assisting the families of fallen heroes, veterans and the military community continues to be an inspiration and a credit to the state of Pennsylvania and to her fellow Americans," read a biography that accompanied the award.
Family spokesperson Sam Stanton on Wednesday requested privacy for the Manions as they mourn Janet's passing.
"The Travis Manion Foundation is devastated by this loss, but also determined to carry on our founder’s vision of honoring the fallen by challenging the living," Stanton said in an email to area news outlets. "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Janet’s husband, Col. Thomas E. Manion (Ret.), their daughter, Ryan Manion Borek, and the entire Manion family."
A viewing will be held on Friday, April 27, from 6-8 p.m. at , 2335 Lower State Rd., Doylestown, PA 18901.
A viewing also will be held on the morning of Saturday, April 28, at , 235 E State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Mass will follow at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Travis Manion Foundation. Click here to make an online donation.