Polly Mann Obituary, Death – On January 12, 2023, Polly Mann passed away while at her home in San Francisco. She had reached the age of 103. She was born on November 19, 1919, in Lonoke, Arkansas, but she spent much of her childhood in Hot Springs, Arkansas. After finishing high school, she got a job as a clerk at Camp Robinson in Little Rock. It was there that she met Walter H. Mann, who was a draftee at the time and was also attending law school. It was during this time that she first entertained the idea of becoming a pacifist.
In December of 1942, Polly and Walter tied the knot in San Francisco, immediately before Walter embarked on his military service in the Pacific Theater. During the subsequent two years, Polly served as an employee of the Cinchona Program for the United States Army in the countries of Ecuador and Peru. The military was provided with antimalarial medication through this initiative. The couple made the trip to Windom in 1946, when Walter began his legal career and eventually became County Attorney. Polly was an enthusiastic member of the DFL party and contributed a column to the local newspaper.
In 1961, Walter was given the position of State District Judge, and shortly thereafter, the family relocated to Marshall. In addition to her service on the Governor’s Council on Aging, the Library Board, and a Mental Health Council, Polly managed the Bookstore at Southwest Minnesota State University for a number of years. She engaged in activities such as lobbying Congress, delivering speeches, participating in protest marches, working with Clergy and Laity Concerned, and putting together Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign in 1968. Her efforts were focused on ending the Vietnam War.
She was part of a delegation of United States citizens who traveled to Paris in 1970 for the Peace Talks in order to engage with those who were attempting to broker peace. In 1980, Polly made the move to Minneapolis, where she became active in the local community by joining Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), working for the Nestle Boycott, serving on the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and Health Advisory Boards, and devoting a significant amount of her time and energy to the Welfare Rights Committee. She ran for the Senate as an independent candidate in 1988, using the slogan “Speak Truth to Power,” as her campaign slogan.
Polly was an avid reader and writer. She did both frequently. She is the author of works such as poems, dramas, and short tales, in addition to columns, essays, and editorials. She was awarded the Peacemaker of the Year prize by the Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation in 2004, the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Justice award in 1989, and the Headwaters Foundation award for lifetime devotion to social justice in 2003. (2011). Polly’s dedication to the causes of peace and justice inspired her to travel to places such as the Philippines, Palestine, Israel, Cuba, and Libya. One of her favorite authors, Thomas Merton, is quoted as saying, “Every conflict can be traced back to one thing: fear. Fear can be overcome only by love, which requires a humble attitude.”
Polly was always fashionable even as an adult, and she used to like reading fashion magazines when she was a young child. She splattered paint over furniture in the early 1960s, when it was considered hip to do so at the time. Even though Polly was far into her 90s, she continued to enjoy the kitchen and drove a car with a manual transmission. She used linen napkins at the dinner that she served you and the others. Her southern drawl came through when she referred to windows as “winda” rather than “windows.
” Her residences were stuffed to the gills with books and odd works of art of varying kinds. In her latter years, she enjoyed living in Kenwood Isles, which is located in Uptown. There, she tried not to smile too widely whenever she triumphed at Scrabble, even if this was typically the case. Polly’s daughter Melinda, Polly’s sister Barbara Whiteside, and Polly’s husband Walter all passed away before Polly did. Polly and Walter were married for 61 years.
Polly is remembered by her daughters Barbara Franck and Constance John (Varghese), her son Michael Mann (Jane), her grandchildren Andrew John, Carmelinda Mann, Francis John, Heather Blonigen (Eric), Jack Cudd (Brenda), and Joshua Mann, her great-grandchildren Jackson Brewer and Xena John, and her nephew Scott Whiteside. Polly also had a great-grandson named Joshua Mann (Julie).