Aaron Michael Manko was remembered on Monday, June 27, as a loved and creative young man who died as he had lived—in the words of his father, “fast and furious.”
Manko died last week in a violent car crash on Hanover Pike in Upperco. He was 25.
“He did not fear death, therefore, he had no fear,” said his father, Dr. Gary Manko, who practices at in Reisterstown.
Hundreds of mourners filled the Levinson Chapel at in Pikesville to share in the grief of a family who watched a young man in a “steady, downward journey into addiction that baffled everyone around him,” said Rabbi Rhoda J. H. Silverman.
“He was provided all the tools to get well,” said Silverman of Temple Emanuel in Reisterstown. “He simply couldn’t or wouldn’t control the impulses of addiction.”
The service was in a chapel that holds 500 people, according to the Sol Levinson & Bros. website. All seats were filled at the service and dozens of people had to stand in the back of the chapel and in the lobby.
Manko, who grew up in Reisterstown, was driving at what police described as a high rate of speed in his 2007 Scion TC south on Hanover Pike in the early morning hours last Thursday. He lost control of the car after going down a hill, skidding across the northbound lane and leaving the road on the east side, police said.
The car struck a utility pole, a fence and a tree, and the car split in half, police said. The front end of the car stopped while the rear of the car continued, striking a tree before finally stopping.
Manko, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car. His girlfriend, Kathryn “Kati” Randall Grubby, 22, was wearing her seatbelt and was trapped in the car. Police said both were declared dead at the scene.
The elder Manko, speaking at the funeral with his wife, Christine, at his side, described fearing such a day for the last 12 years. He said the family had made peace with the fact that repeated attempts at helping their son get treatment did not seem to work.
“I was not surprised by his death,” said Gary Manko. He said that each night he hoped “that tomorrow would be different.”
Reading from a poem he wrote for his son in honor of his bar mitzvah, Manko described his son’s energy, sensitivity and sense of humor.
“We thank God for matching us with you,” Gary Manko read.
Silverman also described the “immense goodness” of the late Manko’s life, including his role as protective older brother to his sister, Brianna. He said Manko had the ability to make others laugh.
Silverman drew laughter as she described a boy who was a “handful”—playing tricks on his three siblings, coloring on walls and knocking down a group of ski instructors as he was enthusiastically learning the sport.
He wrote poetry, was a voracious reader, and expressed his love for his family and a desire for healing through the art of the tattoos that covered his body, Silverman said.
Manko’s younger sister, Brianna, shared some of the poetry she said her brother dreamed of getting published. His poems described his struggles in knowing he was a loving and smart man who made choices that made it difficult for others to see the good in him.
“We respected him. We miss him. We will always love him,” his father said.
Manko is survived by his parents; a brother, Marc Manko of Beaver Creek, CO; and two sisters, Rachel Manko of Baltimore, and Brianna Manko of Baltimore. He was buried at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery on Berrymans Lane in Reisterstown.
Editor’s note: Contributions in Aaron Manko’s memory may be sent to Helping Up Mission, 1029 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202.