Vol. LII No. 5
May 2017

Longtime Chickasaw Legislator Dean McManus passes away

ADA, Okla. – Dean McManus, a full-blood Chickasaw woman who devoted over 40 years of her life to serving her tribe and improving the lives of Chickasaws, passed away March 18. She was 78.

Funeral services were March 22 at Central Church of Christ, Ada. Gov. Bill Anoatubby delivered the eulogy. Interment followed in McGee Cemetery, Stratford, Okla.

Lila Dean Sealey was born July 20, 1938, and reared in the Madill, Okla., area. She was the daughter of Luchess C. Sealey and Mary Odelia Brown Sealey, and granddaughter of original Dawes Commission enrollees Alonza Sealey and Annie D. Brown Sealey, paternally, and Calvin and Mary Alice Brown, maternally.

She attended Kingston and Madill schools and married Harrel D. McManus Feb. 19, 1955. He preceded her in death in 2009.

In 1975, Mrs. McManus became one of only 25 Chickasaw Nation employees. The tribe was then headquartered in Sulphur, Okla.

She was originally hiired as a Community Health Representative for southern Pontotoc County. Mrs. McManus was soon promoted to supervisor and coordinator of the department.

She began serving as Chickasaw Nation Director of Human Resources in 1995 and as Director of Training and Development in 1997.

She was a Chickasaw Nation employee almost 25 years when she resigned in 1999 to seek election to Pontotoc District, Seat 4 of the Chickasaw Nation Legislature.

Mrs. McManus claimed victory and was subsequently re-elected five times.

Governor Bill Anoatubby said the passing of Dean McManus was a sad day for all Chickasaws.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many friends and family members of Dean McManus who will be so deeply affected by her loss,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “Those of us who were fortunate enough to know her as a friend remember her good-natured smile which arose from her caring and compassionate personality.

“We will miss the passion and dedication she brought to her work for the Chickasaw people. Her life and career will have a profound impact on Chickasaw people for generations to come.”

Mrs. McManus served the Chickasaw Legislature as Secretary in 2002-03, and chaired the Human Resources Committee. She was a member of the Legislative, Finance, Health, Historical and Cultural Preservation committees.

She served as a voting Chickasaw representative on the Inter-tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. She was a National Indian Council on Aging board member and National Diabetes Association alternate representative.

In 2005, she was appointed alternate delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

While serving as president of the National Association of Community Health Representatives in 1991, she received the Stellar Leadership Award from the U.S. Indian Health Service.

Other recognitions include the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Oklahoma Indian Health Service, 1991; outstanding and dedicated service by the Oklahoma Indian Health Service Community Health Representative Program for the development of the Chickasaw Transportation System, 1993; outstanding contributions by the National Transit Assistance Program, 1996; dedicated service to the Teacher Internship Program at the Pontotoc Technology Center, 1998; outstanding service as the first president of the Oklahoma Area Association of Community Health Representatives, 2004; Outstanding American Indian Elder by the Oklahoma Indian Health Service, 2006.

Mrs. McManus was honored in 2016 by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) along with fellow Chickasaw Nation Legislator Mary Jo Green.

They were among 50 Native American elders honored with nominations. In 2016, more than 25 tribes were represented. Among the honorees were traditional speakers, veterans, environmental activists, tribal leaders, tribal attorneys, cultural and spiritual leaders, physicians and storytellers.

Mrs. McManus was a longtime member of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.

She was a longtime member of Galey Church of Christ.

Survivors include three daughters, Karen Goodnight and her husband, Stan, of Norman, Okla.; Sherri  McManus, of Ada; and Kristina McManus, of El Dorado, Kan.; a brother, Leonard Sealey, of Lawton, Okla.; a sister, Virginia Lantria, of South Bend, Ind.; 11 grandchildren, Elizabeth Boyett, Amanda Eddings and her husband, Jason; Nicole Willis and her husband, Michael; Ashton Ward, Kyle Goodnight, Madie Goodnight, Katie Goodnight, Tyler Frazier and his wife, Amber; Brittany Frazier, Joshua Thompson and John Christian Roller; and seven great-grandchildren, Mikie, Lila, Cassius, Natalee, Maverick, Slade and Greysen.

Pallbearers were Tyler Frazier, Kyle Goodnight, Joshua Thompson, Christian Roller, Michael Greenlee and Gerald Sealey.

Honorary bearers were Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, Stan Goodnight, Bill Lance, Tom Bolitho, Jay Keel, Toby Perkins, Phillip Perkins, Frank Johnson, Jr., and Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel.