Sean Michael McManamy

Published: 04-04-2021 3:00 AM

VENTURA, CA — In the days after Sean McManamy’s death, his family was still turning to him to find a reason to laugh.

National media just couldn’t seem to get his last name right. McMannany? McMammany? McNammamy?

Some may have found these errors offensive. For this family, it was balm. “He would have had a good laugh about that,” his sister, Casey Parker said. Her first instinct was to call him to tell him all about it—but for the first time in her life, she couldn’t.

Sean Michael McManamy was killed, along with four others, in a helicopter crash on Knik Glacier outside Anchorage, Alaska, on March 27, 2021. He was 38 years old.

McManamy’s irreverent sense of humor was a trait his family, friends, and colleagues relied on him to bring to any situation.

But behind all that levity was a reverence for nature, and a devotion to safely guiding people through it on extraordinary adventures.

McManamy had worked as a helicopter skiing guide for over a decade, sunk his teeth into avalanche studies—a subject he taught for multiple organizations—and led many excursions up Denali, North America’s tallest peak.

Love of the outdoors was always in his blood—but it was his years at YMCA Camp Belknap, in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire, that McManamy began nurturing it as a life skill.

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As part of the camp’s Leader Corps, he developed his natural warmth and gift for camaraderie, winning him lifelong friendships and, crucially, the trust of those he guided on expeditions.

Love, loyalty, and playfulness came so easily to Sean, and he led the way in uniting his new family when, in 2000, he gained a stepdad, Keith Quinton, and two beloved stepsiblings, Nina and Jared.

But he wasn’t one for divisive labels. His mantra for their blended family: “We dropped the ‘step’ a long time ago.”

McManamy was over the moon to become an uncle with the birth of his niece Charlotte “Lottie Dottie” Parker in 2017, and took pride in instilling his sense of adventure in her.

McManamy was lucky enough to find what he loved most, and he pursued it doggedly, without fear or apology. In another stroke of good fortune, the love of his life loved it, too.

He met his wife, fellow skier and guide Caitlin Hague, while completing his bachelor’s degree at Alaska Pacific University.

For a time, the couple lived together in a single room—a feat of compatibility that McManamy celebrated with a hashtag: #oneroomonelove. After over a decade based in Girdwood, Alaska, the couple had recently upgraded to an apartment—with multiple rooms—in Ventura, California.

Over more than a decade together, the couple made a lifestyle of seeking out world-class ski and surf destinations.

But when the time came, McManamy was no stranger to relaxing. He was a prolific binge-watcher, able to provide extensive and reliable reviews of any and every series or film currently streaming, and liberally handed out music playlists and podcast recommendations—confidently guaranteeing satisfaction to any listener. Many credit McManamy with the development of their own musical taste. He could often be found reading, listening to music, and cooking without a recipe, or relaxing on his mother’s porch with a journal.

Ever full of surprises, McManamy and Hague eloped to Mexico in November 2018, gleefully stringing cans off the back of a white Volkswagen Beetle. But McManamy wasn’t about to leave his family out—or pass on a party. The next summer, the couple celebrated their marriage with a proper knees-up at McManamy’s family home in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was packed to the gills with beloved family and friends. Some came from down the street, others from across the globe.

Sean Michael McManamy was born November 28, 1982, in Norwalk, Connecticut, to Barbara Fildes and Gerald McManamy, and spent his early years in Wilton, Connecticut. He moved with his family to Hanover, New Hampshire, at age 7. He graduated from Hanover High School in 2001, attended Colorado Mountain College, and graduated from Alaska Pacific University in 2007.

He is survived by his wife, Caitlin Hague; his parents Barbara Fildes and Keith Quinton, and his father Gerald McManamy; his sister Casey McManamy Parker and her husband Gardiner; siblings Jared and Nina Quinton; and his niece, Charlotte Parker. He also leaves behind a large and beloved extended family and a sprawling community of friends and colleagues.

Details on a service honoring McManamy’s life are forthcoming.

Donations can be made in his memory to Alaska Avalanche School, Protect Our Winters, and YMCA Camp Belknap.

The family welcomes those who wish to share memories and photographs to do so on www.seanmcmanamy.com.

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