Tom has been around square dancing all of his life. His parents, Lee and Lucy Manning had been dancing many years before Tom was even born. As he grew up, instead of getting a babysitter, Tom went along to the dances and sat on the sidelines just watching everyone else dance. One night at the Circle Square B Square Dance Club in Burlington they were starting a beginners’ class. For some reason there were about two squares of youth there with their parents. When Lee asked Tom if he wanted to take lessons, Tom didn’t know any better and said yes. That was in September of 1970 at the age of 8, and has been in the square dance activity ever since.
Dancing wasn’t enough for Tom. In the fall of 1974 Don Roberts, a caller from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was calling a dance at the club with Tom in attendance. After one of Don’s tips, Don started talking to Tom and told him, he danced just like a caller, and gave him a record to learn. The calling bug had hit. By the spring of 1975 and at the age of twelve Tom was calling guest tips around Southeast Iowa.
Tom called full time for about 15 years starting in 1984. He traveled extensively from California to Florida doing dances, weekend and festivals. Tom has called in approximately 40 states, including Hawaii. His travels have also taken him to Canada and Mexico. He now tries to stay closer to home as his family has become his number one priority. He calls for a plus club, the Circle Square B Promenaders in Wever, Iowa and has an advanced workshop group in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Although Tom has limited his travels, he will call specials and festivals on weekends a little farther from home. Tom owns and produces Solid Gold Records and is partner with Bob Asp in Solid Gold Sound, providing sound for State Conventions and area festivals. He has also recorded on Cross Country, Chicago Country, and Yellow Rose records. He is a member of CALLERLAB serving on the Mainstream and Plus committees and the Applications Review Committee. He is also a member of the Southeast Iowa Callers Association having held every office. In 2002 Tom was inducted into the Iowa Square Dance Callers Hall of Fame and in 2010 he and Ella were inducted into the Illinois Square Dance Hall of Fame.
Tom graduated from Western Illinois University in 1984 with a Bachelor in Business and has received his Masters in Education from Ashford University. Tom is now teaching at Burlington High School in the business department. He hopes to use his influence to help get modern square dancing back in the schools.
Tom married his high school sweetheart, Ella in 1983. Their dates consisted of going to Tom’s dances and lessons. That is how Ella learned to square dance. Ella has been employed by General Electric since 1995
They have three lovely daughters. Sara, married Jordon Bright on August 7, 2010 and lives in Paris, Missouri. She is the Youth Pastor at the First Christian Church in Mexico, Mo while Jordon farms. Amanda is 22 and is a recent graduate from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, majoring in elementary education. Ashley is 18 and is a senior at Burlington High School. She is a cheerleader and plays on the basketball team. All three square dance and enjoy attending dances when their schedule allows them.