McManus back on job

Date: January 30, 1989
Location: Madison, WI
By: Richard W. Jaeger
Newspaper: Wisconsin State Journal
Page: 1B

Billboards to herald maverick lawyer’s return

OREGON – After more than a year of agonizing recovery from an auto accident, noted Madison-area attorney Jack McManus is back on the job.

And in his usual flamboyant fashion McManus is making his re-entry in an unorthodox way. He has plans to p1aster the county with billboards advertising his business – a first for lawyers in Wisconsin.

Although lawyers are allowed to advertise in newspapers and on television, advertising has been frowned upon as “unprofessional” by many attorneys. Somehow there is the feeling that barristers and Budweiser don’t mix.

Leave it to Jack. He may be taking a little poke at that proposition. He is putting a picture of his dog on the billboard. While the dog is not “Spuds MacKenzie,” it is the same breed as that party animal. Of course, Jack’s beaming face, cowboy hat included, will be up there too.

On the serious side, the road to recovery for the veteran trial lawyer has been a painful one that is not yet finished.

He is still experiencing pain that he likens to “a toothache in my foot.” And he walks with a slight limp.

“I have another 18 months to make a full recovery before they declare it permanent damage,” McManus said, puffing on a cigar as he sat in his log cabin office on his sprawling ranch near Oregon.

McManus recalled the vivid details of Dec. 3, 1987, when his jeep truck was struck broadside and pushed into a utility pole, pinning him inside.

“Thank God I am alive,” he said.

Along with multiple bruises and cuts to his hands and face, McManus suffered multiple fractures to his hip and upper leg. That was the real crippler.

“They put a lag screw in there along with a 10-inch stainless steel plate,” McManus said, slapping his hip with his hand “That will be in there until I die,” he added.

After 12 days in the hospital following surgery, McManus spent another eight months in a hospital bed in his living room. He was unable to walk for nearly six
months and had to undergo extensive physical therapy.

He still has to do weekly exercises on gym and weight equipment set up in an airplane hangar near his office.

To the energetic McManus, being bedridden was the most devastating part of the accident. He is used to trekking up mountains, dodging bullets in Tibet or roaring about in one of his six airplanes over Arctic tundra or Belizian jungles. At age 60, be fashioned himself into a soldier of fortune.

After his wife Dorothy died in 1984, McManus wrapped himself in a variety of off-beat, challenging adventures. He volunteered his expertise as a pilot to fly medical rescue missions for the Wings of Hope Inc. in Belize in Central America. He transported the injured from remote jungle villages to a single-engine plane for several months as a volunteer.

In October 1987, less than two months before his auto accident, he crossed China in the company of professional adventurer and freedom fighter Jack Wheeler, who is better known as the “Indiana Jones of the right.”

During that expedition, McManus found himself in the middle of a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa as Chinese soldiers stormed the city under machine gun fire.

“You don’t argue with the Red Chinese army, I’ll tell you that much – you just go,” McManus said.

Just days before his accident on Highway M, less than six miles from his home, McManus had confirmed plans for another venture with Wheeler. The trip, to the North Pole, was to have taken place last April.

“Jack (Wheeler) and I should be crossing the South Pole right now,” McManus said, referring to a second trip he had booked with the nationally known adventurer to the opposite end of the world this January.

That thril1 of adventure is not lost, McManus quickly assures.

“As soon as I get my doctor’s approval I will be back on the trail,” he said, gleefully rubbing his leathery hands together. “I will be back in Central America with the Wings of Hope and Jack Wheeler and I will venture somewhere, sometime again.”

McManus has been flying the past couple of months, working his way up from his smallest plane to his biggest, a DeHavilland Beaver.

In the meantime, he has plans for a summer trip to Alaska for fishing. “I used to fly that trip sometimes by the seat of my pants. Now I will just have to take my time and take a little longer at getting there.”

That is the attitude McManus has taken in his return to the courtroom. He has already tried some cases and his first jury trial is set for next fall.

As for the pain in his foot and his limp, McManus boasts, “Heck, I’ll get myself a gold-handled cane – you know, the kind used by gentlemen and soldiers of fortune.”

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