The loss prevention industry lost one its strongest leaders with the passing of Gary Manson on February 17 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, at the age of 73. Manson retired in 2009 as vice president of loss prevention for Neiman Marcus, where he worked for 25 years. His death produced an outpouring of affection from his loss prevention peers, who called him “a legend,” “ultimate professional,” “true gentlemen,” “mentor,” and universally, “friend.”
“I am very saddened over the loss of a true gentleman and friend,” said Jim Lee, executive editor for LP Magazine. “Gary and I go way back to our days with Montgomery Ward. I first met him when he and I were assistant regional directors. Soon after, we both were promoted to regional manager and shared many stories of our challenges and successes. Over the years, I visited with him at Niemen Marcus and shared a seat with him on the NRF loss prevention advisory council. Gary was always the first to volunteer for any new session. While he was an LP professional by reputation, he was a farmer by heart. After his retirement, we shared emails keeping each other up to date on our lives. His messages were always filled with his love for Joan and what the kids were up to. He was a blessed family man, and I will miss him very much.”
Jon Phillips, vice president of LP at Neiman Marcus, who took over for Manson after his retirement, said, “Gary was a mentor to many people and was mine throughout my career. He was always there to guide me and encourage me or give me a nudge when needed. He had an incredible memory for all those little details that he was able to personalize with everyone and truly make them the center of attention. When he retired, he had his daughter, Hannah, make a bracelet for me as a reminder and guiding light with the initials WWGMD (What Would Gary Manson Do). [See image at left.] I see that bracelet every day because I have it attached to my phone. Gary was my mentor, my friend, and my second father. He will truly be missed.”
“I think it was 1979 or 1980 that I first meet Gary. At that time he was a regional safety and security manager for Montgomery Ward,” recalled John Osborne, a retired loss prevention professional with over thirty years’ experience in the retail industry, holding management positions with Montgomery Ward, Revco Drug, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Steve & Barry’s, and Seaman’s and Levitz Corporation. “I had ten years with the Arlington(Texas) Police Department when I was interviewed for my first job at Ward’s. Gary was, even then, somewhat of a legend and something of a mysterious person with a very bright, very serious personality. I quickly found him to be some of all that and even more.He expected your best efforts as well as your dedication to the department and the company. At the same time, you always knew Gary was there to support you and guide you through whatever needs you had. I know in my first year I worked with a very difficult store manager who made a practice of terminating my employment, but each time a call to Gary and maybe even a store visit would resolve the problems. Gary promoted me a number of times, increasing my responsibilities while also taking the time to provide all I needed to develop and learn. He was responsible for any success I have had in my career and gave me the tools, drive, and dedication to lead my own departments over the years. He was a leader, teacher, and mentor for so many and had a remarkable influence within the loss prevention industry, earning tremendous respect from the entire retail industry. He will be remembered and honored by many.”
According to Chad McIntosh, vice president of asset protection and risk management at Bloomingdale’s, “Gary Manson taught me many things that I still carry with me today. He was an example of the ultimate professional and had an amazing work ethic with an attention to detail second to none. More than a boss; a dear friend. I have tried to live up to his example every day of my career. Those in the industry who have worked with him understand.Those who didn’t have the opportunity to know Gary have missed someone special.”
Born Henry Garrard Manson III on June 3, 1943, Gary Manson earned his bachelor’s degree in business and history from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO. After graduation, he served as a patrol officer with the Marshall Police Department before joining the US Army in 1968. He served in both Vietnam and Korea in the Criminal Investigation Division before returning to the Marshall PD, where he ultimately became a sergeant.
Manson turned down an opportunity to join the FBI in lieu of a position in the security and safety organization for Montgomery Ward, where he held several management positions. He joined Neiman Marcus in 1984, where he managed the loss prevention organization until his retirement in 2009. That same year, Manson was inducted into the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Ring of Excellence, cited for his many contributions to the LP industry.
Manson is survived by his wife, Joan, who is vice president of loss prevention, benefits, payroll, and legal for The Container Store, and who is also active with the NRF. Other surviving family members include daughter, Monique Bullock of Belton, MO; son, Henry G.“Hank” Manson IV; daughter, Hannah Manson of Arlington, TX; a sister, Dianne Collicott and her husband Olin of Salina, KS; two brothers, Rick Manson and his wife, Charlene of Brunswick, MO; Tim Manson and his wife Janice of Killeen, TX; and two grandchildren, Garrett Bullock and Madison Bullock.
Funeral services were held February 22 at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Brunswick, MO. Memorial contributions in Manson’s name can be made to Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Town, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or St. Boniface Catholic Church. Memorials may be mailed to Breshears Memorial Chapel, 207 W. Broadway, Brunswick, MO 65236.