2011-02-12 / Obituaries

John Manikoff


John Manikoff John Manikoff Mackinac Island summer resident, musician, and artist Vitold “John” Manikoff, 59, died Friday, January 21, 2011, at the Woodland Hospice House in Mt. Pleasant from cancer.

Mr. Manikoff was born in Pontiac September 19, 1951, to Vitold John and Jane (nee Holt) Manikoff.

Beginning in 1960s, he spent summers at the Packard Cottage at British Landing on Mackinac Island. The home was built in 1902 by his great-grandparents, George and Caroline Packard.

Mr. Manikoff’s gift for music and art led him to a variety of experiences. His music career began in Marquette Park on Mackinac Island, where as a teenager he would play his guitar. His music became popular and he began to play at the old Pilot House, where he attracted crowds.

He wrote a song in the early ’70s called “Take Me to Mackinac Island,” which played on jukeboxes and local radio stations. His early music career took him to Colorado, New York City, Toronto, and finally, Los Angeles, California.

As a singer/songwriter his passion and talent resulted in many successes including playing with other well-known musicians, and recording his own songs. Mr. Manikoff moved to California in the early ’80s to pursue his musical career. He recorded for WB Records and performed as a singer in commercial record albums, produced various artists, and composed and produced music for the Jon Cryer and Lynn Redgrave film, “Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home.”

He was a 1969 graduate of Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills. Following high school, he briefly attended Oakland Community College. He received an associate degree from Glendale College in California and earned a degree in graphic design from Platt College of Graphic Design in Los Angeles in 1998. He worked in the fine arts and as a freelance graphic designer and art director.

Returning to Michigan in 2003, Mr. Manikoff took a hiatus from his musical pursuits to focus on his professional art career. Mackinac Island’s beauty inspired most of his oil paintings. He spent summers on the Island using photographs to capture the scenery, landscapes, sunsets, beach views, homes, and horses. He also painted portraits. His love of the Island inspired countless pieces and he found great joy in painting the place he loved so much.

Mr. Manikoff often donated paintings for Island fundraising events, including the medical center, Wawashkamo Golf Club, and the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association.

He also enjoyed writing special songs with themes specific to fundraising events. His keen sense of humor could be heard in these songs.

In addition to painting, he illustrated two published therapeutic children’s books written by his sister, Lin Sheppard. Mr. Manikoff was a member of American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, and Mid-Michigan Art Guild, Lansing Art Gallery, and Oil Painters of America.

In 2008, Mr. Manikoff renewed his music career, performing live on a limited basis. His proudest moment was when he self-produced, composed, arranged, and played all of the instruments in a CD released in July, 2010, just two days after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Mr. Manikoff last worked for Blackbird Vending, a job that provided the flexibility to pursue art and music.

He was an avid golfer, especially at Wawashkamo Golf Club. He was a sports fan and enjoyed reading.

Mr. Manikoff is survived by two sisters and their families, Olga Jane Hard, of Rocky Ford, Colorado, and Caroline “Lin” and David Sheppard, of Amelia Island, Florida, and Mackinac Island; an aunt and her family, Olga and Fred Challen of Grosse Ile; an uncle and his family, Fred and Fran Holt of Hilton Head South Carolina; two nephews and their families, Kit and Rose Hard of Sarnia, Ontario, and their children, Tennyson and Bella, and, Matthew and Misti Hard of Gillette, Wyoming, and their children, Olivia Jayne and Evan, and cousins Sara Kelsey, Bill Kelsey, and Rick Holt.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his aunt, Caroline Kelsey, his brother-in-law, Chris Hard, and two cousins, Mark Holt and Dorothy Kelsey.

A small memorial service was held in the Woodland Hospice House on the day of his passing. A memorial celebration of his life will be held Saturday, July 9, at 5 p.m. at Wawashkamo Golf Club on Mackinac Island.

Contributions in Mr. Mani- koff’s memory may be made to Wawashkamo Restoration Pre- servation Fund, or Woodland Hospice House in Mt. Pleasant. Donations may also be made to any charity of choice.

Charles R. Lux Family Funeral Home of Mt. Pleasant assisted the family with arrangements.

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