The Tri-Development Center in Aiken provides an array of day programs and residential facilities to about 370 special needs adults.

The breadth of the agency’s services today might have taken longer to achieve without the efforts of Patsy McManaway. In 1971, she was hired as the executive director of a new facility, the Adult Development Center – a program that eventually evolved into Tri-Development.

McManaway, who died in Charlotte, N.C., on April 12, was determined to make the opportunity work. From the start, she understood that the needs of people with cognitive disabilities don’t end after childhood. Their parents also benefited, getting respite from their ongoing care of their children.

“Patsy had vision and enthusiasm and got a lot of people to help,” said longtime resident Skipper Perry.

At that time, some services were available for babies and young children. The concept of a program for adults appeared an unlikely and startling venture.

By 1972, a new Aiken Sertoma Club had been chartered, and Perry recalled how McManaway came to visit one day with volunteers and persistently asked the club members for their assistance

“We just thought this was unheard of and nobody would listen,” he said. “But later, we talked it over and decided we might as well help.”

Perry soon got heavily involved, becoming a board member “and she worked me to death,” he said with a laugh.

The Adult Development Center continued to expand in staffing and clients over the years. In 1984, the facility became Tri-Development, and McManaway continued to serve as director until her retirement two years later. The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce honored her as the Woman of the Year in 1984.

Ralph Courtney, the Tri-Development director since 1991, initially met McManaway in 1972.

“I was always impressed with Patsy’s dedication,” he said. “She remained interested in the quality of life available to the people we serve until her death.”

When Vicki McManaway Carr was a third-grader, her mother returned to college and, years later, finished with a degree in sociology. For some time, her mother had been drawn to people in need.

“My brother was born with a lot of birth defects and had major operations before he was 2,” Carr said. “He led a pretty normal life, but my mother understood the issues that people can go through. Mike died at 24 from kidney failure.”

McManaway still found time for a wide range of charitable and community endeavors – Helping Hands and Habitat for Humanity. She helped found the USC Aiken Alumni Association and was an active member of the PEO Sisterhood. Still, her focus remained on the Adult Development Center and its successor, Tri-Development.

Under McManaway’s leadership, the adults learned about personal hygiene and received basic care, recreation, cooking and crafts. As the years went by, Courtney said, the emphasis changed to vocational training, “giving the individuals something meaningful in their day,” he said.