Dear Vin: When I retired way back in '07, you wrote to me, in part: "Dear Rabbi, What am I going to do when it's Friday morning and I'm stuck for a Sunday column idea? Yes, I know it was a weekly occurrence, but you were always there to bail me out. Not anymore. No longer will I be able to humbly enter your office, fall to my knees and bow three times, crying out " 'Salaam,' as I beg your indulgence, your illuminating guidance -- and a column idea of some remote substance . . ."
Well, back at you: What am I gonna' do every Friday morning when I open my Bradenton Herald local front, and not find out from Vin who's had a baby, whose kid graduated from college, what soldier returned from the wars, who is celebrating a significant anniversary, and who made the Sugar Canes or the Honey Bears? Worse, what am I going to do on Sunday mornings when I open the local section and find no Vin expounding on the latest skullduggery of the school board, the sexual hijinks among Manatee High administrators and coaches, the most recent sweetheart development deal cooked up by Carlos Beruff or Pat Neal?
Even worse, what will Bradenton residents do without the near-daily reports on ordinary life in the Friendly City, the warm-and-fuzzy accounts of events large and small that we used to call "features" back in the day when good writing was appreciated and people actually took time to read those stories?
No Vin to wrap up the destruction of a beloved landmark in 450 poignant words, or to mark the passing of a beloved patriarch or matriarch after a life of public service.
No Vin to capture the essence of a Blues Festival or a Manatee-Southeast showdown, to celebrate the return of Friday night lights and denounce the Bucs, those bums, or to remember a holiday celebration or vacation with his Irish clan from long ago.
No more Vin'isms, no more Hawaiian shirt fashion shows, no more colorful stories of Jersey days. Well, not in the paper, at least. But, hopefully, some of those still occasionally available around the local hangouts, over a beer and a burger, like in the good old days.
Happy retirement, buddy. It ain't all bad -- not that I would know since it only lasted two weeks for me.
Your once-Rabbi and hopefully-still friend,
-- David Klement
When Vinny came here, I told him he'd never find enough material for that column. But he found enough to fill that entire newspaper!
-- Ed Dick, calling from his hospital bed to wish Vin the best
Best of luck, Vin -- it's about time! And you'd better still come by Council's for the best burger in town.
-- Lawton Smith
Yo, Vin, can I have the cassette tape back now? The one you used to slip into your truck player every Friday night on the way to a high school football game, just to hear that one song, "No. 29." It got you juiced up better than a half-pint could. Remember how it started? Of course you do:
I was born and raised here
This town's my town
Everybody knows my name
Philly might claim you, but this was your town while you were writing for the Herald. And like the guy in the song, I know you won't be following rainbows, big dreams and brass rings into your retirement because you already captured yours.
You'll always be No. 29 in my program, buddy, but No. 1 in our hearts.
-- Jim Smith
If Vin was in the newsroom I never had to worry about anyone knowing that I was arriving. As I would walk down the aisle between the two sets of cubicles towards my desk, Vin would announce my arrival with "Nudi, kazooti." Even in the new building, if I came to visit I would be greeted with that familiar welcome of "Nudi, kazooti."
One of my most endearing memories of Vin was during the annual Holloween costume contest we used to have at the old building. I think it was Marti Harmon who came up with the idea of having masks of Vin made and all of the members of the copy desk wear an Hawaiian shirt, Vin's trademark work attire, and enter the contest.
When Vin saw us parade through the newsroom, as was the custom prior to the voting on the best costume, he was surprised to see a gaggle of about 10 "little Vin's" traipsing down the aisle. As they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
-- Carl Nudi
Congratulations on your illustrious journalism career and best of luck with your future endeavors. I'd like to share one of my favorite Irish blessings with you: May you have love that never ends, lots of money, and lots of friends. Health be yours, whatever you do, and may God send many blessings to you!
-- Tom O'Neill
Vin's column has been a bright and cheerful voice in our community's conversation for a long time. It will be missed.
Vin is the co-founder of the Beach Bistro's Anna Maria Island St. Patrick's Day parade. The joy it has brought to young children should guarantee his admission to heaven.
-- Sean Murphy
A memory that sticks out is Vin calling me "Pardis" every time I walked into the newsroom -- which I liked because out of all the people I've met in life, he's one of the few who ever pronounced my name right. Who knew Vin is a master of language?
-- Paradise Ashfar
As executive editor of the Bradenton Herald, I hired Vin as a local columnist, replacing the very popular Howard Hall, who was retiring.
I had always enjoyed reading Vin's work at the Boca Raton News, a sister Knight-Ridder newspaper, and had kept my eye on him, knowing Howard was contemplating retirement.
Vin and I knew each other and kept in touch over several years.
l asked Vin to come to Bradenton to interview. He enjoyed his visit, meandering around Bradenton and having lunch at Council's Recreation Center. He was aware of Bradenton, primarily because of Manatee High's football team.
He was excited to be offered the job here as local columnist. Vin told me he appreciated my reputation as a reporter's editor, putting reporters first in managing the newsroom. He said he would like to work at the Herald, but he wanted to be assured he could continue to wear his Hawaiian shirts. I told him it was a requirement of the job.
I have never been disappointed in Vin's work or his attitude toward readers. And I love him personally as well.
-- Wayne Poston
I met Vin in spring 1998; I was director of the Manatee High School dance team, the Sugar 'Canes. From then until May 2007, when I stepped down from that position, Vin was a great cheerleader and supporter of whatever the team was doing. He emceed the fall show and performed in the spring show. His routines were one of the show's highlights each year! He also covered the annual trip to UDA nationals and he often attended and cheered the team on in person!
Vin also became a very dear and trusted friend. We had many fun times together over the years, and I will miss his columns and his features in the Herald. He put the local color back into what many of us consider our hometown newspaper. You're a very special person, Vin Mannix. I am proud to call you and Sherri friends.
-- With much love, Linda Boone
Vin and I share more than our longtime careers in journalism. When I first arrived in Bradenton in 2005, my desk sat next to his.
I came from the chilly Northwest, Spokane, Wash., to be exact, on the Idaho border. Even growing up in Colorado Springs, though, I had a penchant for a certain sartorial style rare in cold country: Hawaiian shirts.
I immediately connected with Vin, and his fast friendship meant a lot.
We also share a desire to connect with readers with precision in our columns -- and that means with the best words to express meaningful points. Vin and I would consult on writing often, especially Fridays in advance of his Sunday columns -- even though I was not his editor. I'll miss those thoughtful discussions.
As a writer and reporter who focused on people more than issues, Vin played a vital role in communicating all the good in our community. He connected with people and earned a large following, a tribute to his personable nature.
While his Sunday columns could be hard-hitting on major Manatee County issues, his personal admissions shined, too, especially those about his wonderful wife, Sherri, and his family in New Jersey. I'll miss those, too.
The very best of luck in retirement, Vin.
-- Chris Wille
My favorite Vin memory is that in my first month as a copy editor, he came over the news desk to compliment me for a headline I wrote for a Mannix About Manatee article: "Take Me Out to the Ballet Game." (About baseball players using dance to practice athleticism). I'm pretty sure that in my three and a half years at the BH, he was the only writer to personally thank me for headlines.
-- Matt Grieco
It's hard not for us to think about Vin without going back to our McKechnie Field baby shower. The dizzy bat race between Vin and Brent was a classic. With the video to prove it. We're just glad they both survived!
Seriously, though, Vin is just good people. Case in point, when he and Sherri came to visit us in the hospital the day AnnahLilly was born. We'll never forget that.
Good luck, Vin! We wish you happy travels, many more Hawaiian shirts and crocs, and all you can eat at the Shake Pit. Whatever you do, we know your better half will keep him in line!
-- Brent and Jennifer Conklin
I will miss working with Vin, he was always my "go-to" guy when a great community story came my way. He was always happy to have those ideas passed along to him. And I will also miss how he used to color coordinate his Crocs with his Hawaiian shirts.
-- Jana Morreale
Vin's a little different. He's the only newspaper guy I know who had his own St. Patrick's Day parade. I'll miss hearing him on the phone, asking, "How young are you partner?" I love his trademark birthday phrase, usually reserved for someone turning 50 or 60: "and the milestone lands on him Thursday." Vin has plied the writer's craft with polish and professionalism, and equally importantly has been an ambassador for the Herald. He has judged more cookies and cakes at the county fair than the rest of us combined. I'll miss his bear hugs and the burgers with him at Councils.
-- Jim Jones
I will miss Vin for so much ... his big laugh, his fabulous shirts, his nickname for me. But I will most miss the knuckles (or the kind email) I get whenever he likes the treatment his story got the previous day. It always lifts my spirits, and (corny but true) I truly appreciate my work being appreciated.
Vin, thanks for all the work you do, all the good will you have raised in the community (some on the back of yummy fair goodies) and all the help and praise you have given to your co-workers throughout the years.
-- Kelly Lipp
Yo! I'll never forget my first day at the Herald almost a decade ago, when Vin took this Jersey kid on his first tour of Bradenton. With a slap on the back, the colorful guy in the Hawaiian shirt whisked me off in his car that morning.
The details are fuzzy, but I remember stops at the Shake Pit (of course), the Herald's former East Manatee office and a partially built ice hockey arena in Lakewood Ranch ("Ain't happening, bro," Vin told me.)
And of course, we had to visit Manatee High's football field. I soon learned the Hurricanes are kind of a big deal in this town -- and so is Vin. The Herald is going to miss him -- and so am I.
-- Jason Bartolone
Enjoyed talking "football" with you ... which is the proper name for soccer! And ... Vin just smiled when I came in wearing the orange on St. Patrick's Day.
-- Angie Monroe