Cover photo for James McManus's Obituary
James McManus Profile Photo
1945 James 2024

James McManus

August 1, 1945 — February 26, 2024

James William McManus, 78, beloved husband, proud father and grandfather, and respected attorney entered eternal life on February 26, 2024, surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was born August 1, 1945, in Kansas City, Mo., the son of Gerald Boniface McManus and Mary Margaret (Hagan) McManus. He attended St. Peter’s Elementary School and St. John’s Seminary High School in Kansas City, Mo. Jim graduated from Rockhurst College in 1967 in Philosophy, Psychology, and Political Science.  

During the summer 1966, he worked as a resident counselor at Upward Bound, a program initiated at Rockhurst College as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and met his future wife, Julie Waters, who was also a resident counselor. After graduation, he attended the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Conception, Mo., in preparation for the priesthood and mission work in South America.

As a seminarian, he went to Milwaukee and marched with Fr. Angelo Groppi, a nationally known activist, to protest Schlitz Brewery’s discriminatory hiring policies. He wore his Roman collar and joined other seminarians, priests, nuns, and protestors from across the country.

Jim later changed his path and chose to attend law school. He graduated from St. Louis University School of Law in 1971 and returned to Kansas City as a Law Clerk for Chief Federal Judge William H. Becker of the Western District of Missouri. In 1972, while at Mass at St. Peter’s, he saw Julie again across a crowded church, and the rest is history.

Jim then embarked on an illustrious legal career as a personal injury, trial, and appellate attorney that spanned over 46 years. He joined Shughart Thomson & Kilroy Law Firm in 1973, became a Director and Shareholder in 1976, as a member of the “Magnificent 7,” and remained there for 21 years. In 1996, he established the Law Office of James W. McManus and was Of Counsel at Dysart Taylor, and later at DeWitt Zeldin, while maintaining his own firm.

His commitment and dedication to his legal practice was well-known and respected among those who knew him personally and professionally. He was named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and “Best of the Bar” in Personal Injury, Trials, and Appeals by the Kansas City Business Journal for multiple years.

He was also recognized for his legal ability and ethical conduct in a resolution brought before the Missouri House of Representatives for his “exemplary professionalism and civility in the daily practice of law.” In 2003, he was honored by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association with the Congenial Counselor Award, which perfectly reflected his personality and character.

Jim enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. His favorite pastimes included family road trips, fishing, swimming, early morning walks in his Brookside neighborhood, listening to Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, and James Taylor, visiting and enjoying all things Ireland, and following his favorite football teams, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jim was known for his kindness and sense of humor and for his deep devotion to his Catholic faith.   Goodness and integrity were exemplified throughout his life. He was devoted to his beloved wife, five children, and eight grandchildren.

He wanted the grandchildren to remember taking walks with him and for them to remember the importance of love, generosity, and the small joys in life. His final reminder was for us to keep the faith and believe that God would provide. His loving, sweet spirit and beautiful, kind heart will forever be remembered.

He was preceded in death by his parents: Gerald and Mary Margaret (Hagan) McManus and his brother-in-law Maurice Carey.

He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Julie; five children and their spouses: Kathleen McManus Couchonnal (Dr. Luis Couchonnal), Bridget McManus Taylor (Clint), Kevin (Alejandra), Jane McManus (Brandon Walker), and Tim; and eight grandchildren: Caroline Couchonnal, Callahan Taylor, Liam and Daniel McManus, Sean and Kate McManus Kolakowski, and Lainey and Griffin Walker.

Siblings: Mary Jane Latino (Dr. Frank Latino) Los Angeles, Margaret Kemper (Ron) Naples, Fla., and Rosemary Marshall (Bob).

Sisters- and brothers-in-law: Jane Carey, Mary Helen Murphy (Mike), and Roseann Hudnall (Jim), and many nieces and nephews.

If you ever wanted to know the meaning of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” Jim was the best example. Kindness radiated from his eyes with a map of Ireland on his face. We will miss him dearly and know he is forever in our hearts.

The Mass of the Resurrection in Celebration of his Life will be on Friday, March 1, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 815 E. Meyer Blvd.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggest contributions be made to St. Peter’s Catholic Church or Operation Breakthrough.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, March 1, 2024

10:30 - 11:30 am (Central time)

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