Honey Manson loves the people of Tucson. Along with the warm weather, they are her favorite thing about the city.
Unfortunately, the hard water of Arizona has been less kind to her.
A plumbing leak caused by corrosion recently left her and her husband without water for five hours. But that small inconvenience reminded her of the blessings in life that often go overlooked.
“We take this for granted,” Manson said. “We can just open the tap, but there are people who don’t have water or don’t have money to pay their bills.”
That is why, even at age 93, she gives her time and resources to others who need it.
“What else is there in life? You’ve got to give back,” Manson said.
Manson is the head of the nurses council for Hadassah Southern Arizona and sits on the board of B’nai B’rith Covenant House, which helps low income seniors with affordable housing.
She used to be on the boards of a thrift shop and B’nai B’rith’s second low-income housing facility, but she tries to limit having to get behind the wheel these days.
Right now her motivators are her love for Israel and her love for animals.
“It’s kind of ridiculous at this point, I feed everything that walks or crawls,” she said.
Manson was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and has held dual citizenship since 1996.
Born to a Polish mother she describes as “very Canadian” and a Russian father she describes as very “old world,” Manson grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
She went to a technical school and worked in the garment industry before finding her way into an office where an accountant encouraged her to go back to school.
“He said ‘You need to go and get further education,’” Manson recalls. “He made this big deal about it.”
Manson had just met a group of recently graduated nurses from Buffalo, New York, and decided that nursing was worth the shot.
After going back to school and completing her program in 1948, she encountered another big life decision.
Manson was allowed three invitations for her graduation ceremony, so along with her parents, she invited an old friend from her neighborhood with whom she’d kept in contact.
“And he came, I couldn’t believe it, by train!” Manson says.
Her husband, Murray, was completing his schooling at the time to become a medical doctor.
The two dated for five years after she graduated until one night when she presented an ultimatum.
“I said ‘I don’t know about you but I have a date,’” Manson says.
Murray was obviously confused by the notion but she was ready to tie the knot.
“I said, ‘Look, if you don’t want me to go out, we have to get married,’” Manson says, smiling.
And just like that, they were married in 1954 and had three children before the end of the decade.
They continued to live in Buffalo before moving back to Toronto for a brief time.
But the social healthcare system in Canada wasn’t bringing enough in for the family, so when a spot opened in Rochester, New York, they jumped on it.
Manson retired in 1975 and mostly dedicated her time to Hadassah among her other board seats.
Manson and her husband first visited Tucson for a conference at the El Conquistador resort.
They purchased a living space in 1984 for visiting, but made their way out to the foothills in the ’93.
Manson attributes their long-lasting marriage to her bad memory.
“I always say that I don’t remember arguments we’ve had, so it’s lasted,” Manson laughs.
She considers herself blessed to have been able to live the life she has and doesn’t have regrets because some things are out of our control.
“I believe in fate,” she says. “Everything happens for a reason, you can’t change anything.”
If she had to impart any wisdom she’s learned over her 93 years, she thinks you shouldn’t let little things bother you so much.
“Cool it,” she says. “I hear people complain about stuff that is so unimportant in the scheme of things.
“I’ve gotten excited over nonsense too but as you get older you realize, ‘So what?’” she says. “This too shall pass.”