Weekly Letter: The Legacy of Anthony Manganaro

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Funerals impact me. Especially when the friends and family of the deceased truly share with the audience the person they have lost.

That happened on Sunday night at Siena Farm in Paris, Kentucky when the family and friends of Anthony Manganaro gathered to remember his life. I was honored to be present.

Anthony died unexpectedly on August 20 at the age of 79. He’d survived an aggressive cancer and heart attacks, and was very aware of his mortality. 

He grew up in a working class Boston family and worked hard, very hard. He built and sold multiple businesses, making enough money to do pretty much whatever he chose to do.

That included traveling the world with his wife, three children, their spouses, and grandkids. It included putting a huge number of young people through college who were the first in their families to have the opportunity. And it included passionately working to solve hard problems, like ending poverty in Baltimore, curing cancer, and fixing what’s wrong with horse racing. 

Anthony lived mostly in Crownsville, but his love for animals led him to Kentucky where he built a magnificent farm for Thoroughbred horses. I first met him through a mutual friend in Maryland, but I visited his Kentucky farm when I was in the process of moving the Thoroughbred Makeover from Pimlico to the Kentucky Horse Park. 

We started where he starts all his farm tours, at the massive iron statue of a work horse pulling a giant plow. He’d asked a friend’s son to design something that honored “the nobility of work.” I later learned from people who worked for and with Anthony just how deeply he believed in that.

Anthony understood what I was trying to accomplish with the Retired Racehorse Project. He supported it financially, and he entered his beloved retired racehorse Dewey Square in our Thoroughbred Makeover with his neighbor’s 14 year-old daughter as the trainer. They won the show jumper division of the event, and he then bought the horse back from her for his grandson at a price high enough that she was able to launch her own equestrian career. That was how he operated. Benefit as many people (and animals) as possible with a single act.

A few years later, I decided that my own efforts to improve people’s lives should be focused on the community where I live, and that running for County Executive was the right path. I asked for Anthony’s support. He wanted to meet, not just with me but also with my campaign manager. He wanted us to present the campaign plan. 

I knew how wicked smart he was, and I was nervous. We did our preparation, and our presentation. Then we listened. That’s when Anthony shared his own campaign plan for us. 

Yes, he supported my political career, but he never asked for anything in return. He truly just liked being helpful.

At the ceremony, his grandson described late night phone calls with his grandfather on topics of mutual interest, followed the next hour by emails full of charts and links, followed by early morning calls asking if he’d read the emails yet.

Others described a similar insatiable desire in the man to solve problems and to empower people. They also said that his health challenges, knowing that his days were limited, intensified his work. 

I am fascinated by what makes impactful people impactful, and I left Kentucky comforted by the example of a man whose success was born not of greed, but of generosity.

I want to thank Anthony Manganaro for empowering so many people to solve this world’s problems. And I especially want to thank him for empowering me.

Rest in peace, Anthony.

Until next week…

Steuart Pittman 
Anne Arundel County Executive