By Dr. Elizabeth Ruleman
On September 16th, Tennessee Wesleyan College’s Tuesday Chapel Convocation held a piano and organ recital in Trinity United Methodist Church to recognize the great gifts of Dr. Douglas Manley, beloved professor of music, whose untimely death has left a vacancy in the lives of our college community. Planned by Dr. Keith Wheeler, the service featured four of Dr. Manley’s former students–Stephen Crisp, Luke McDonald, Payton McKeehan, and Savannah Self–playing selections in memory of their teacher.
Dr. Manley’s own music professor from his college years at Carson Newman, Mr. James Pethel, offered a verbal tribute followed by a time of meditation accompanied by musical piece dedicated to Dr. Manley, who was, he said, one of his most outstanding students.
The prelude and finale were recorded renditions of Dr. Manley performing “Oh, God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “Tu Est Petrus.” Mr. Pethel recalled the latter as a challenge met by the young Dr. Manley, who not only performed it flawlessly in his junior recital but did so by memory.
Everyone attending the service was moved to hear yet again Dr. Manley’s masterful skill on the organ, and all joined to sing his favorite hymn, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” beautifully played by 2014 graduate Matthew Crabtree.
Dr. Manley was voted “Most Popular Professor” in The New Exponent’s superlatives survey just last spring. His friends, colleagues, and students miss his ready laugh, his eyebrows raised in mock horror, his broad and sometimes devilish grin, his natty attire, his brilliant lectures, and his witty repartee, but we know that, though his life was too short, his musical legacy will live on in the lives and work of his students.