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Ron Manolio
RONALD J. MANOLIO. Beloved husband, of 57 years, of Elizabeth (nee DeMaioribus); dearest father of Mark (wife, Gina), Meribeth Pannitto (husband, Joseph), Mona Bolander (husband, James), Matthew (wife, Michelle) and Melissa Harvey; devoted grandfather of Jennifer, Deanna, Matt, Jonatha, Alexa, Brandon, Sarah, Zachary, Shannon and Ella; dear brother of Eilene Fazio (deceased) (husband, Pat). He created Eggshelland, in 1957 and was a collector of antique cars. Mass of Christian Burial 10:00 a.m. Saturday August 11, 2012, at St. Francis of Assisi Church. Family will receive friends at THE VICCHIARELLI FUNERAL HOME, 5252 MAYFIELD RD., LYNDHURST (BETWEEN RICHMOND AND BRAINARD) FRIDAY, 2 - 4 P.M. and 6 - 8 P.M.

Published in The Plain Dealer from August 9 to August 10, 2012

Ronald Manolio, known for popular Eggshelland Easter displays at his Lyndhurst home, dies at 82
Jeff Piorkowski, Sun News
Posted: 08/09/2012 4:13 PM

LYNDHURST -- Ronald Manolio, the man who with his wife, Betty, created Eggshelland, an annual display that celebrated Easter and made largely from eggshells, has died.

According to his wife of 57 years, Manolio died Aug. 7.

"He had blood poisoning from an abscessed tooth," she said. "He was coming along very well and had been in the hospital (Hillcrest Hospital) about a month."

Betty Manolio said her husband, 82, was about to start rehabilitation while at Regency Hospital in Warrensville Heights when he died.

"It was a shock," she said. "We thought he was doing well."

The Manolios began Eggshelland in 1957 while living on the corner of Mayfield and Brainard roads.

"We started with 750 eggs in the shape of a cross," Betty Manolio said. "Then, of course, when we moved (to Linden Lane) we had more room and made it much larger.

"He loved to see people enjoy something,  Betty Manolio said. "He was happy to see people smile."

In addition to eggshells, other props were used as the displays became more grand. Each year's display featured a theme, although religion was always at the heart of the displays.

As the tradition became more well known in Lyndhurst, and news spread to surrounding communities, cars would jam Linden Lane on the days leading up to Easter, necessitating a police presence to keep traffic moving. Local news broadcasts frequently reported on the displays, as did media in other parts of the country.

Betty Manolio said there would be one last Easter display next year.

"It will be a goodbye to my husband," she said.

Ronald Manolio is also survived by five grown children -- Mark; Maribeth Panitto; Mona Bolander, of Pittsburgh; Matthew; and Melissa Harvey. Other than Bolander, the others live in the Greater Cleveland area. All helped in building the displays.

Visiting hours will be from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Vicchiarelli Funeral Home, 5252 Mayfield Road. The funeral Mass will held at 10 a.m. Aug. 11 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 6850 Mayfield Road in Gates Mills.

Ronald Manolio, creator of Lyndhurst's iconic Eggshelland, dies at 82

Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 5:28 PM Updated: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 8:00 PM

Lyndhurst, Ohio -- Even Ronald Manolio’s workbench in the basement of his Lyndhurst home is a work of art. Covered in vibrant drips and speckles like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece, the bench bears the vestiges of thousands of hours spent working in Manolio’s media of choice: Enamel paint and eggshells.

This week signals the end of an era for curiosity-seekers and families who, for decades, pilgrimaged to Manolio’s front yard every Easter to take in the elaborate display of colored eggshells aptly known as Eggshelland. Manolio died Tuesday at Regency Hospital in Richmond Heights of blood poisoning, after complications arising from a dental procedure. He was 82.

Thursday afternoon, in the living room of the Manolio’s Linden Lane home, Betty Manolio, 79, flipped through scrapbooks commemorating the displays that she and her husband designed and built with the help of their growing family, transforming the quiet cul de sac into a colorful tourist attraction nearly every spring since 1957.

It all began on a whim, she said, beaming at a newspaper clipping featuring their first-ever eggshell display — a multicolored cross made up of 750 hollowed eggshells.

The couple had recently married and was expecting their first child when Ron Manolio, a Cleveland native who worked for Channel 3 as a camera operator, thought it would be fun to decorate the yard for the Easter season, his wife said. Family helped them collect eggs, and Manolio used a paring knife to carefully slice off the tops of the eggs and empty their contents. Then they colored the shells with tempera paint and used wooden pins, hand-carved by Manolio’s father, to secure them to the lawn. Manolio used string to lay out the design in straight lines on the grass over a period of several days.

Word of the yard art spread quickly throughout the area, and by Easter Sunday, crowds had gathered on the couple’s front lawn to enjoy the design.

Manolio began planning early the following year for an even more elaborate display, and a tradition was born — one that came to define the entire Manolio family from January of each year until the last of the eggs was cleared from the lawn.

In the decades that followed, the displays would require as many as 50,000 colored eggs. The Manolios enlisted the help of their five grown children and ten grandchildren in carefully cracking open the tops of eggs and emptying them. Owners of a local diner, The Sidewalk Café in Painesville, which serves breakfast 24-hours a day, agreed to let the Manolios break eggs for them, leave the edible portion for the restaurant and take the shells home.

The Manolio children say they remember their parents picking them up at the end of the school day and driving straight to the restaurant to crack eggs.

Each year, the cross and an iconic Easter Bunny character took their places on the lawn, but the other images have changed to pay homage to world events or simply showcase favorite fairy tales or pop cultural trends.

When John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, the Manolio’s built a papier-mache globe and rigged a bunny to circle it.

They honored those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with an eggshell depiction of an American Flag and the Statue of Liberty. And the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 was commemorated with images of Betsy Ross, and Revolutionary characters playing a fife and drum.

That display, which stayed on the lawn through July 4 of that year, survived the elements pretty well, Betty Manolio said. Her husband just had to use care in mowing the lawn around the fragile eggs.

Other designs have been lighter in nature — Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz and the Power Puff Girls among them. Members of the Manolio extended family all pitched in to execute the finished product and often contributed ideas to the following year’s design.

That decision ultimately was made by Betty Manolio, who sketched the designs, then used large sheets of drafting paper with tiny grids to determine exactly how many eggs of each color were required. The shapes were then transferred to a rudimentary map of the front yard and drafted to scale, to guide the Manolios’ children and grandchildren in impaling each hollowed egg on wooden skewers and mounting them on foam boards.

But the most painstaking task — painting each delicate eggshell — has always been Ron Manolio’s turf, his family said. After the shells were washed and air-dried, he would spend hours in front of the TV, performing a job he called "crumbing," using his thumbs to smooth the edges of the cut shells.

Then he would retreat to his basement workshop, where below the warm glow of an overhead lamp, he used enamel paint to coat each shell and set them on drying racks suspended from the ceiling. Eggs that remained undamaged after they were displayed were boxed up, catalogued by color and reused in subsequent years.

More than 300 boxes of colored eggshells fill the Manolio basement.

Through the years, Eggshelland has taken on a life of its own. The tradition has been featured on the "Montel Williams Show," "Ripley’s Believe it or Not," the "Today Show" and the Food Network’s "Extreme Cuisine." It was the subject of a 2008 documentary film.

An Eggshelland devotee once spotted a photo of the display in an English language newspaper while visiting Japan, Betty Manolio said.

Locally, the display is legendary. One young couple, who visited Eggshelland on their first date, became engaged there two years later. To facilitate the proposal, the Manolios crafted a sign — made of eggshells, naturally — that read, "Will You Marry Me?"

Thousands would line up in their vehicles to drive past the site each year. Many have told the Manolios that their parents brought them as children, and now they’ve incorporated the pilgrimage into their own family traditions.

And that — the Manolios say — is what Ron Manolio lived for. He spent most of every Easter Sunday greeting his guests on the front lawn. And during the off season, Manolio papered the town with flyers advertising the event. He passed out flyers at air shows, car shows, family gatherings — even at his sister’s own funeral, his family recounted in laughter Thursday.

Manolio, who loved interacting with people so much that he took a job as a school bus driver after he retired from Channel 3, pledged he would continue the Eggshelland tradition until the day he died, and he often asked for volunteers among his children to take up the torch.

Betty Manolio and her daughters, Meribeth Pannitto, 49, and Melissa Harvey, 36, chuckled and shook their heads Thursday afternoon when asked what would come of Eggshelland in Ron’s absence.

This Easter, they said, will be the last time Eggshelland adorns the Manolio yard. The family will pull together to create one final grand display. Plans are in flux, but most likely will include the image of Ron’s face and a farewell message.

It will be, they hope, a fitting tribute to the man whose ambitious sense of tradition became a highlight of Easter Sundays for thousands.

A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 6850 Mayfield Rd., Gates Mills. The family will receive friends between 2 and 4 p.m. Friday at the Vicchiarelli Funeral Home, 5252 Mayfield Road, Lyndhurst.

Eggshelland 2012
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Ron Manolio
Master Painter Ron Manolio
Rest in Peace

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