Though she has endured many hardships in life, Clara Manitu has maintained her positive outlook and is loved by many for her infectious personality.
Clara was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1932, and moved to Ohio as a young child. Because of her developmental disability, her family eventually sent her to the Feeble Minded Institution in Orient, Ohio.
While living in the institution, Clara met and shook hands with President John F. Kennedy. “He was very nice and handsome,” says Clara.
When President Kennedy asked if there was anything he could do for the residents at the Feeble Minded Institution, Clara had one request – change the name of the facility. After that, the facility was renamed “The Orient School of Ohio.”
After her time at The Orient School, Clara provided care to tuberculosis patients at a hospital in Mount Vernon, Ohio. From there, with the support of the Wyandot County Board of Developmental Disabilities, she moved into a group home with three other women. It was at this group home where Clara discovered her love for cats and got a white cat of her own, Snowball.
Clara and Snowball left the group home when Clara became the first person in Wyandot County to benefit from remote monitoring, which allowed her to live independently in her own apartment. Clara loved living on her own and stayed there until she was injured during a fall. After her injury, she moved to Riddlehaven, an assisted living facility where she currently resides.
Today, Clara is an active member of the county board, travels when she can, and takes comfort in her faith. She’s also a member of Choice Makers – an adult day program in the county. Clara keeps herself busy and loves taking daily walks to mingle with others in her Choice Makers program. “She’s just a sweet person,” said Todd Dilley, county board superintendent.
Clara has enjoyed living in her small, close-knit community in Wyandot County. “It’s a nice place with nice people,” she says.
Clara has led a life that she can be proud of and anyone who gets to spend time with her considers themselves lucky.