Manuel “Manny” Gaetan, 84, passed away close to his family on December 24th, 2021 at Wildewood Downs in Columbia, SC under the compassionate care of the hospice staff.
Manny was born July 17, 1937 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He and his sister “Kiki” were raised primarily by his mother, Ida Rivera, after his father passed away early in Manny’s life. Manny came to the United States to attend college at Rensselaer in 1954.
Manny joined the Army Reserve Quartermaster Corps in Fort Lee, VA in 1959. He joined as a second lieutenant due to his time in the ROTC at Rensselaer. He served part time for over two decades and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. Manny spent time working in Puerto Rico before being offered a job in Pottsville, PA working for Phillips-Van Heusen. It was in Pottsville that he met his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Hochgertel. The two shortly moved to Cleveland, OH for a time as Manny worked for Joseph and Feiss and earned his master's degree from Cleveland State University. After a few years, he was offered a job by Bobbin International which ultimately brought him to Columbia where he lived from 1970 onwards.
Motivated by a desire to succeed and to help others, Manny spent his career working as an industrial engineer, consultant, writer, photographer, and educator in the apparel and textiles industry. Once Manny became involved with the Rotary Club in Columbia, its motto of “service above self” became a guiding adage for his own life. His career culminated with retirement as President of Bobbin International, a Columbia based publishing and trade show company. Manny attended and taught Sunday school at Northeast Presbyterian Church in Columbia for more than 40 years.
In retirement, Manny shifted his focus more intently to photography, a passion he practiced since his youth in Puerto Rico. Manny served as a professional photographer for NBA and ABA basketball games, as well as many different University of South Carolina sporting events. He eventually become a dedicated photography tutor and instructor, teaching courses at USC and Midlands Tech for more than a decade. He proudly served as a member of the Dean’s Circle for USC’s journalism and business schools.
Manny is survived by his wife Betty; their daughters, Michele Miller and Linda Gaura; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. Also, their “third daughter” Elizabeth Brubaker who has been a part of the family for over 40 years.
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