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  • Writer's pictureWilliamsburg Funeral Home

Loren W. Manbeck

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

May 17, 1923 to August 29, 2020

The middle child of seven children born to Francis and Ella Manbeck, of Marion, N.D. Loren enjoyed big band music and won third place honors for his cornet solo in a statewide music competition in 1941. Loren graduated from Valley City Public High School in 1942, and served in the submarine fleet of the U.S. Navy during World War II.

After the war, Loren studied business and engineering at Western New England College (Mass.) before pursuing his lifelong interest in furniture design and woodworking at the School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.). Loren earned an Associates Degree in Applied Science from RIT in 1951, and was recommended for a Fulbright Scholarship to study furniture design in Norway.

A recognized designer-craftsman in the 20th Century American Crafts Movement, Loren established The Village Woodshop, in 1953, in Sturbridge, Mass., where he made mid-century modern furniture. Loren’s appealing designs were featured at major crafts exhibitions held in the 1950s at the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, Mass.), The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum (Springfield, Mass.), de Cordova Lincoln Park and Museum (Lincoln, Mass.), America House (New York City, N.Y.) and The Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, N.Y.). His furniture received regional and national recognition, including the 1953 Grand Award for Three Dimensional Design from the Brooklyn Museum, as well as commissions and accolades from prominent art patrons.

Loren was always generous with his time and talents. During the 1950s, Loren taught industrial arts and woodworking at the Hitchcock Free Academy (Brimfield), the Cole Trade School (Southbridge), and the Springfield Evening Trade School. Even in retirement, Loren’s furniture refinishing classes taught at the Worcester Center for Crafts (1985 to 1995) always had a long waiting-list.

In 1951, Loren joined Old Sturbridge Village museum (OSV) in Sturbridge, Mass., as a cabinetmaker to show visitors the techniques of Early American furniture making. He became Superintendent of Maintenance and Restoration there in 1957. During his 29-year association with OSV, Loren also held administrative positions as Vice President of the Sturbridge Corporation and Assistant Treasurer of Old Sturbridge, Inc. and the Sturbridge Corporation until his retirement in 1980.

In addition to his management responsibilities, Loren and his staff developed innovative techniques for disassembling, moving, restoring, and preserving the Thompson Bank and several other buildings and artifacts, added to the museum’s collection during his tenure. Based on his unique expertise in historical building restoration, Loren served as a committee member and ad hoc craftsman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Wash. D.C.) from 1970 to 1971.

Loren was very active in the Sturbridge community with a special interest in quality education. He served as chairman of the Sturbridge Elementary School Committee from 1962 to 1971. Loren was a member of the Tantasqua Regional School Committee from 1963 to 1971, and served as committee chairman from 1968-1969. He also served on two school building committees during these terms.

From 1961 to 1972, Loren was commissioner of the Sturbridge Water Department, and after 1972, served as board chairman of the local utility for several years. He was a member of the Sturbridge Rotary Club, and a Lector at St. Anne’s and St. Patrick’s Parish in Fiskdale, where he and his family regularly attended church services.

Loren passed on August 29, 2020 at St. Vincent's Hospital, in Worcester, Mass. He is preceded in death by his wife Mildred G. Manbeck. Loren is survived by his sister, Miriam Trapp of Virginia, and brother, Dwight Manbeck of California; five children including Sturbridge residents Daryl G. Manbeck, Jeanne Manbeck and Gracellen M. Riel, and Lois M. Becton (Georgia), and Nancy M. Wentworth (New York); seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The Manbeck family wishes to express their gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and staff of St. Vincent’s Hospital for their care and compassion. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation, the Leukemia Society, and the American Heart Association. Williamsburg Funeral Home has been entrusted with his services.

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