Learning life lessons on the prairie

Marx’s final book shares memories of growing up in Manchester


De Smet High School graduate Gary Marx left his home in the small rural town of Manchester in 1956 to begin a broadcasting education at the University of South Dakota. He went on to become a renowned author and speaker worldwide. Before he passed away in May 2019, he completed his remembrances of growing up in Manchester, South Dakota. His book, “The Spirit of Manchester,” is now in publication.

Gary’s wife Judy, and sons Daniel and John, along with editor Ginger O’Neil, and graphic designer Pat Malley, brought the book to life. The book is currently available to check out at the Hazel Meyer Memorial Library in De Smet, or to purchase on Amazon, and you will soon be able to buy the book at Ward’s Store.

In the Prologue of the book, Gary writes, “Manchester is where our story begins, and the wisdom of this prairie community has driven the curiosity and contributions of people who have taken what they learned about life in this tiny town across the world. I am one of them.”

“The Spirit of Manchester” presents a detailed and personal account of a South Dakota family, and their quest to build upon the challenges of life on the prairie. It follows the path through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the 1940s and 50s. Included are entertaining lessons learned from Gary Marx’s formative years on the prairie.

Gary was born in the back of his parents’ grocery store in Manchester in 1938. He was known for his “booming voice,” stemming from his early years as a radio broadcaster in Sioux Falls and Omaha. During his lifetime, Gary had a multi-faceted professional career — he was an author, speaker, futurist, educator, associate executive, and researcher. He worked with educators and community leaders in all 50 states and 81 countries on six continents, delivering energizing and thought-provoking presentations. He wrote nearly a dozen books, focusing on leadership and societal trends. He founded the Center for Public Outreach, a future-oriented consulting firm, in Vienna, Virginia in 1998.

Throughout his life, he maintained close ties with his South Dakota roots. Gary served on the Board of Directors of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society and the Harvey Dunn Society. He also worked with community members to create the Manchester Monument, in commemoration of his hometown, which was destroyed by a 2003 tornado.

In a recent interview with Judy, she gives us her thoughts in her Foreword, which reads…For years, Gary said, “I need to write a book about growing up on the South Dakota prairie.” Frequently urged by his family to “get started on that book,” he began writing his own personal stories in January 2018, knowing that his time with us was growing short. This is his “last book” and his gift of memories to the rest of us.


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