Walter Paul Manning, Jr.: 1943-2024

The scaffold and access industry is mourning the loss of industry veteran Walter P. Manning Jr., who passed away at the age of 80 on Jan. 30 in Friendswood, TX. 

walter manning, champion elevators Walter P. Manning Jr., 1943 - 2024. (Photo: The Manning Family)

Manning was born on May 10, 1943 in Jefferson Barracks, MO to Sgt. Walter Paul Manning, Sr. and Naomi “Helen” Manning.

In 1966, Manning married Elaine Tate, and over the course of the next eight years, the family grew from two to six with the birth of their four daughters: Lesa Cegielski (David,) Kathryn Thompson (Henry,) Paula Manning (Eric Schmidt) and Sherran Manning (Zach Furrh.) He was the grandfather of nine grandchildren: Jessica Branson, Lauren Melchor (deceased,) Joshua Melchor, Allison Thompson, Katie Thompson, Madeline Thompson, Megan Thompson, Alex Calles and Mia Calles, and three great grandchildren: James, Lily and Parker. He was also the uncle of niece Kristina Montes (Alex and Anabella Sunshine.)

In 1974, Manning took a job with Heede International selling Alimak Hoists, thus beginning his career in the elevator industry that spanned almost 50 years - and touched thousands of lives.

In 1976, with help from Elaine’s cousin, Charlie Meeks, Manning started his first company, Emscor, Inc., which sold and rented Champ industrial elevators. In the 1980s, Emscor began distributing MAN Wolff tower cranes and began to manufacture Atlas Elevator equipment. Manning built a formidable and loyal team with Jim Jensen, Mike Massey and countless others, with whom he spent more than four decades working alongside.

By 1991, the Emscor family of companies expanded following the purchase of manufacturer Champ Equipment Company. Following a relocation to Houston, it was then that Champion Elevators was born. The move created one of the only major American industrial elevator manufacturers, and Champion would go on to employ more than 150 people with offices in Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and Baltimore. 

Known as a “disrupter,” Manning’s company “forever changed the landscape of the entire global [hoist and construction elevator] industry. Over and over, he recognized the potential in people. He agitated, fostered and mentored countless careers to unimaginable success. Walter always aspired to greatness, but his true legacy is that he inspired greatness in others.”

Manning retired - for the first time - in 2005. After fulfilling a long non-compete, Manning found himself restless, and he could no longer deny his entrepreneurial spirit. So, in 2010, he made magic happen  one last time, coming back to Champion for an additional nine years. Manning retired - for the second, and last - time in 2019 and spent his remaining years surrounded by friends, family and his dogs.

Manning was a graduate of Milby High School’s Class of 1961 and attended the University of Houston. He also was a professional boxer until 1970, and was a Golden Gloves Champion.

The life of Walter Paul Manning, Jr. will be celebrated on Feb. 10 in Houston at Forest Park Funeral Home and Cemetery. A viewing will be held the same day, at 11 a.m. followed by his funeral service at noon, and burial at 1 p.m. A reception will follow. 

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