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Sun, 03.08.1914

Richard Mann, Businessman born

Richard Mann

*Richard Mann was born on this date in 1914.  He is a retired Black businessman and community activist. 

Richard Morris Mann was born in the Rondo Community of St. Paul, Minnesota.  He was the second child of Richard Matison Mann and Grace Starks Mann.  His other siblings included an older sister Laura Mae, and younger sisters Helen and twins Pearl and Jewel.  His parents moved the family to Minneapolis where he attended kindergarten and elementary school there through 6th grade. 

His father died when he was 11 years old, and his mother worked to support her 5 children as best as she could.   He attended Bryant Junior High School, then his family moved back to St. Paul.  Mann joined the Boy Scouts Troop 55 at St. James AME Church and attended Marshall Junior High and St. Paul Central High School.  His family then moved back to Minneapolis, where he enrolled in and graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis in 1935.  After high school, Mann was unable to afford the costs of the University of Minnesota.  He worked to support himself and his siblings, doing whatever jobs he could obtain. 

He found employment in his grandfather’s barbershop shining shoes, he worked as a car polisher, and as a porter in fashionable Minneapolis clothing store.   There, he negotiated with his employer that if he brought in Black customers, he would receive 5% commission on any sale that was made, in addition to his salary as a porter in the store.  He brought in such luminaries as Gordon Parks and Lester Young who made clothing purchases at the store.  This work experience also was instructive to him for learning how to dress well and tastefully, a trait he reflects for all occasions.   He also persuaded his employer to advertise in the local Black newspaper (The Minneapolis Spokesman). 

In 1947, Mann later became a successful entrepreneur as co-owner of a popular nightclub called Treasure Inn.   They featured the best local music in the Twin Cities, including the Percy Hughes Band and Prince Rogers, father of Prince.  The club closed in 1949.  In 1950, in partnership with Ed Salter, they opened the Chatsworth Inn, a 3-2 beer tavern in the Rondo neighborhood.  The business initially did well with a steady stream of customers who worked at different facilities during the war years.   He sold his interest in the tavern business and concentrated his time and efforts at the Post Office position he had acquired.  He started working regularly for the Post Office in 1953 and held several positions there.  In 1970 and 1971, he was the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) Counselor of the St. Paul Post Office.  He retired from the Post Office in 1983 after 30 years of service. 

Mann was active in community organizations.  In 1949 he became a member of the Sterling Club, a social, civic and charitable organization established in 1919 in St. Paul.  The Sterling Club works cooperatively with other organizations to provide beneficial activities and programs for the Black community.  The Club also provides leadership in the community.  Mann served as past President of the Club.  He is a long-time member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, formerly known as St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of St. Paul.  For many years he served as Junior Warden and as volunteer Sexton.  It was in his 90’s that he passed that task on to younger men in the church. 

In honor of Mr. Mann’s 90th birthday, he and his family members established the Richard Morris Mann Scholarship to benefit graduating African American high school seniors attending college.  This scholarship is awarded to selected recipients annually at their graduation.  Richard Mann has been married twice.  He has 3 children, Richard, Stephen and Margo.  He also had a stepson, Jerry Thomas (deceased).  At the age of 103, he continued to live independently.  He is believed to be the oldest registered golfer in a St. Paul, MN golf league.  He frequently walked the course in favor of riding in the golf-cart.  Mr. Richard Morris Mann is currently living in memory care at Lilydale Senior Living. 

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