David Manning, former state finance commissioner and Metro finance director, dead at 69. He was from DHS Class of 69

DavidManning

David Manning, the influential political aide and government finance expert, died on Sunday. Manning was 69.

Manning worked as commissioner of Finance and Administration under Gov. Ned McWherter in the 1990s. He is regarded as the architect of the state's TennCare program, which provides health insurance program for low-income families, disabled people and pregnant women.

In 1999, Manning was hired as the finance director for Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.

Former Metro Finance Director and Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration David Manning.
Former Metro Finance Director and Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration David Manning. (Photo: Photo provided by Metro.)

Referred to by supporters and political opponents as "Dr. No," Manning was the steward of the city's finances at a time when the Purcell administration focused on a nuts and bolts approach to government.

Manning proudly stood up to council members seeking pet projects, but stakeholders say his deft management of city finances benefited the city. When Purcell left office, the city's reserve funds, especially for schools, grew substantially and the overall financial health of Metro was strong.

"David Manning put the dollars and cents behind Mayor Bill Purcell’s vision of a city where every school, every street and every sidewalk matters," Nashville Mayor David Briley said. "David’s work as Metro’s finance director helped lead Nashville to new heights by focusing on education, infrastructure and other neighborhood needs. 

"David Manning’s financial acumen, health care policy expertise and heart for public service made thousands of lives better. It’s hard to imagine leaving a better legacy than that.”

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Manning's professional career began in 1974 as a budget analyst for the state. He climbed the ranks in state government, culminating his hire as a cabinet-level adviser to McWherter. He also served as deputy treasurer for Tennessee.

"David was and will always be for me a man that gave human form to the concept of public service," said former Nashville city Councilwoman Emily Evans. "He was both prudent and innovative and everyday earned the trust the public placed in him. He taught me more than even he probably realized. He was also a kind and generous man and I will miss him deeply."

Following his work with local governments, McWherter entered the health care field and served as the receiver for the solid waste management system of Guam.

Manning was preceded into death by his parents Lester Manning and Lula Lively Manning. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Donna Manning, and daughters Emily Herrick and Laura Jenkins, in addition to his siblings Arnold Manning, Margene Jones and Charlotte Dickinson.

Manning had three grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will take place Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Brentwood Hills Church of Christ. The internment will be private. Visitation will be at the church from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday and one hour prior to service Wednesday.

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