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Hundreds of People and Pets Remember Dr. Mannix

Family, classmates, friends and patients streamed to St. Margaret's to remember local veterinarian.

More than 700 people – and dozens of pets – came to St. Margaret's Episcopal Church Saturday to honor Dr. Jack Mannix, a veterinarian who had been part of the fabric of San Juan Capistrano for decades.

Only 60 years old, Mannix died suddenly last week while taking a nap right after performing a surgery.

Daughter Erika Mannix Picciolo said it was fitting her father died in his sleep. Helping animals pass peacefully was the main reason why Mannix chose to be a veterinarian instead of a pediatrician, a profession he was also considering.

He called euthanasia “falling asleep and then drifting just pass. How appropriate he passed the same way,” she said.

Elin Mannix Lightbodysaid Mannix was a big saver of mementos, keeping several large memory boxes full of notes, photos, emails and even thank you letters from his patients’ owners. Many of them were on display in Sillers Hall, where the four-legged could join the two-legged in remembering.

Bob Arrigoni of San Juan Capistrano brought his lab Luca, 8, his fourth patient of Dr. Mannix’s.

“With the last one, Dr. Mannix came to our house, and we all cried together,” Arrigoni said.

Heather Lindquist of San Juan Capistrano said Dr. Mannix even humanely and caringly euthanized a goldfish, a 6-year-old prize from a county fair that grew to 7 inches and eventually had a cancer on its tail.

She came with Pepper, a parti poodle, a 12-year patient of Dr. Mannix. Like many in attendance, Lindquest doesn’t know where to go to replace the caring she found in Dr. Mannix.

“I don’t even want to think about that,” said David Perry of San Clemente. His golden retriever Kai was a rescue that Dr. Mannix nursed back to health.

“He left some pretty large footprints in the world,” Perry said.

Family members shared lots of treasured and light-hearted moments – such as how he liked to make restaurant reservations. When the hostess called out, “Elvis, party of five,” daughter Erika knew dad made the arrangements.

Son Ryan Mannix said among the treasures in the memory boxes was a New Year’s resolution list from 1980, the year he was born, along with self-evaluation the following year to see how he’d done.

Among Dr. Mannix’s goals, that wife “Lizzie and child are healthy to full term.” Evaluation: Good, Ryan Mannix said. For the goal of getting and staying in better shape, he only gave himself a “fair.” For the goal of becoming a better veterinarian, he graded himself: “Learning daily.”

Although they graduated high school in 1970 from St. Augustine High School in San Diego, 18 of his classmates showed up to share memories – they were that close – and sing the alma mater. 

Joe Taylor remembered the pre-Dr. Mannix being asked his senior year by his Latin teacher where he saw himself in the future. He uttered in perfect Latin, but translated here: "For the tenacious, no route is impassible."

Patients probably never heard Dr. Mannix get preachy. He had a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, in his office that may have gone largely unnoticed, Ryan Mannix said. His father also subscribed to the idiom, attributed to St. Francis: Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.

“I’m confident my father preached the gospel, even if he didn’t find it necessary to use words,” Ryan Mannix said.             

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Mannix was the veterinarian to Editor Penny Arévalo’s two dogs.

Jim Roache December 16, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Jim Roache 2:46 pm on Thursday, December 6, 2012 "Bigger than life" is almost an understatement when it came to describing, my friend Jack Mannix. Jack's charisma, intelligence, compassion and zest for life I would count as second to none. In our 30 year friendship, Jack taught me so much by deed and example, carried me through tough times and above all, was my closest and dearest friend. As a "Brother of the River," Jack and I travelled to many 'once in a lifetime' fly fishing destinations. Ironically, we concluded once that we must be having more than our share of 'lifetimes'. I guess we just surmised that, as a vet, some of those feline nine lives must have rubbed off on him. Jack led life to the fullest and while I remain stunned for losing him so soon, I rejoice in the many memories of being one of the privileged to have been embraced in his incomparable life. My heart goes out to Liz and her family for their loss. Words cannot even begin to describe the deep and profound sorrow I share with them. I believe Jack always knew that he could count on us to be there for his family.
Penny Arévalo December 16, 2012 at 06:17 AM
That was very sweet. Thanks for sharing.
David & Peggy Reed December 16, 2012 at 05:25 PM
What a lovely Celebration of Jack Mannix's life. Everyone in attendance had their life touch by him in some large way. Whether you were a client for one year or thirty, Jack Mannix was your friend within ten minutes of meeting him. His love for his patients and their 'parents' was heartfelt. We were blessed to have known Jack for almost 30 years. His life was beautiful and his wife and family are amazing. He will be missed but he has left a HUGE footprint in our hearts.
Buy My Bikes December 16, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I will keep the Bells I received and hang them on my Christmas Tree each year! Every time you hear the Bells ring an Angel gets his Wings! Dr Jack Mannix was truly an Angel!!! Proud to have known him! Bicycle Jim!

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