the key west citizenAugust 8, 2018


Sonya Rae Manning passed away on Jan. 21, 2018, in Niagara Falls, New York. She was 39 years old.

Sonya was born on March 8, 1978, on Big Coppitt Key, Florida, to Bruce and Jeanette (Michalski) Manning. She displayed theatrical and musical talents throughout her childhood in the Florida Keys, where she starred in a number of local theater productions.

After graduating from Key West High School (1996) and Florida State University (2000), Sonya moved to Buffalo, New York, where she earned a master’s degree in education. In the Buffalo area, she taught in a classroom for autistic children, served as a special assistant to developmentally challenged youth, and led English classes for adult Somali and Burmese refugees. Her love of teaching and other cultures also took her to Tuxtla, Mexico, where she taught first grade; and to Europe, where Sonya worked as a nanny in Florence, Italy, and traveled to Paris, London and Rome. She continued to find creative expression as a muralist, singer, guitar player and comedian until the end of her life.

Sonya is survived by her parents, Bruce and Jeanette Manning, of Eden, New York; sister Heidi (Joseph) Miller, niece Alexis, and nephew Cannon, of West Seneca, New York; and by the many loving relatives and friends who remember her radiant spirit. A Celebration of Life will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 1343 Sturgeon Point Road, Derby, New York.