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'Mr. Silverdale' leaves lasting legacy of community service
Longtime community advocate and leader Hank Mann-Sykes died last week after a long-term illness. He was 72.
Mann Sykes is survived by his wife Loisanne Sykes; sons Kevin and Joshua; daughters Kim, Karen and Katherine as wells four granddaughters and three grandsons.
Mann-Sykes left behind a long list of local achievements from his public service during more than two decades in the area with organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, youth sports, the United Way. The 2008 Silverdale Citizen of the Year founded the Great Kitsap Duck Race and was deeply involved in Silverdale's Whaling Days. Furthering his commitment to Central Kitsap, Mann-Sykes also helped found the Central Kitsap Community Council, which he chaired. He was also part of the leadership committee that helped raise money for and promote the Haselwood Family YMCA.
Local residents speak fondly of Mann-Sykes and remember a man who loved community service and loved people.
Long time friend and fellow Rotarian, Rob MacDermid, said that he had never met anyone like Mann-Sykes. "Hank and I have been best friends for the last 14 years," he said. "He was a friend, a mentor, and a brother."
In the Kitsap County, Mann-Sykes continued his tradition of philanthropy and community service and engagement, which earned him the unofficial titles of "Mayor of Silverdale" and "Mr. Silverdale."
MacDermid said that among many other activities, Mann-Sykes was a personal advocate for his fellow veterans as well as a reliable friend.
"Because of his injuries, he knew the veterans health care system and out, and he would help veterans become enrolled in system when they thought they did not have benefits and had nowhere else to turn," MacDermid said. "He would also help people who could not mow their lawns and he would mow their lawns for them."
Mann-Sykes was born in Jackson, Miss. Dec. 15, 1939. He and his younger brother, Rick, lived with their parents until Hank was 4 at which time his mother, who was unable to care for the children, placed the two brothers in a series of orphanages in Texas and Arkansas.
In 1957, Mann-Sykes enlisted and joined the Air Force. He began his service in the fuels specialist school at the Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas, but he soon found himself in radio and television with the armed forces, including service in Vietnam. He was also credited as being a combat photographer during the conflict. It was during one of those missions in 1968 that Mann-Sykes was wounded, suffering burns to his legs as well as internal injuries to both his kidneys and pancreas.
As a result of the injuries, Mann-Sykes retired from the Air Force in 1969. After retirement, Mann-Sykes continued to work in broadcasting and he owned and operated radio stations in Alaska and Washington as well as working in marketing and management in the industry.
In 1988 Mann-Sykes moved to Kitsap County to work for the local radio stations and he made the area his home for the remainder of his life.
"He was my best friend and brother and mentor and was irreplaceable in my life as well as the community," Scott Slocum said of his fellow Rotarian. Mann-Sykes' passion was community service and he was tireless in his efforts to serve the community, Slocum added.
"I have known him quite a while," Slocum said. "Hank was someone who held himself to a very high standard of wanting to serve the community. He felt that no matter what else you did, your job, or whatever, serving your community was number one priority. He was always thinking about what he could do to help."
Slocum said that Mann-Sykes had a gift for personal relationships and utilized that gift to connect people in ways that bettered the community.
"One of his biggest strengths was connecting people to help the community," Slocum said. "He was able to facilitate people working together through these connections."
Though Mann-Sykes' health suffered in his later years, it didn't stop him from serving his community.
"He would be at home, but he would still be on phone or email still trying serve despite it," Slocum said. "He would not give up when it came to helping to community and we all benefitted by that desire."
Geoff Ball, who is the director of the Haselwood Family YMCA in Silverdale remembers Mann-Sykes as a tireless supporter of the community as well as being instrumental in bringing the YMCA to the community.
"Hank started helping very early on with the capital campaign for the Y," Ball said. "Hank just knew everybody in town and he would almost demand that folks visit with us."
"It is sad that Hank will not be here to celebrate our one year anniversary with us, but he went down fighting," Ball added. "He called me a couple of nights ago to let me know his health was failing and could not make this Monday's meeting, but he arranged for the director of Kitsap Transit to meet with us which was spectacular news for us. He served up until the very end."
Ball also remembers that Mann-Sykes was a loving person.
"Hank would close every conversation with me with, 'I love you Geoff,' and it took me a while to realize he really meant it. He was kind and loving and worked tirelessly to serve his community here."
Anji Sell, who is a past president of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce said that Mann-Sykes will be missed, but the impact he had on the community will last forever.
"His passion was for Silverdale and everything Silverdale," she said. "Silverdale was the center of his heart. I have known him 20 years, and he was always willing to mentor me and younger people. He always wanted to make Silverdale the best place it could be. Silverdale will not ever be the same without him, but the touch he left on it will always be there."
Mann-Sykes wife, Loisanne, wants people to remember her husband as a man that genuinely cared for the community and its people, though they may not have always agreed with his point or view or his methods for achieving his ends. "He had a very deep love of people, God and his community," she said. "I would want people to know that about him. He cared deeply for people who did not always get along with him. I have had many calls from people who said they did not always see eye to eye with him, but that they really liked him anyway."
Mann-Sykes was a member and deacon of Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church. Services have not been arranged at this time.