As Miss Dodge Center 2007 Manya Jewel Twite blows a kiss. Photo courtesy of Megan Loppnow
By Ruth Hanson
"She was such a great person," Ruth Madison said, remembering her longtime friend Manya Jewel (Twite) Johnson, who had died only a few days before at the hands of her husband. "She would walk into a room and light it up. She was never mean. Never. She could make friends with anyone."
The two became friends soon after Manya moved to Dodge Center when they were both in second grade at Triton.
"She had a way of talking me into anything," Ruth said. "Like we walked to and from school together every day. Later on we drove to school together. We lived just two blocks away from each other."
Both of them played volleyball, although Ruth insists that Manya was a much better player.
"She played all the way through high school," she said. "I didn't. And she was Miss Dodge Center in 1997. That was our junior year. I think that was fun for her. We double dated to the prom when we were sophomores."
Ruth went to beauty school after she finished high school. She works at a beauty shop in Kasson although she and her family live in Dodge Center.
"Manya set me up with Chris, my husband," Ruth said. "And she was the maid of honor at my wedding. She is a godmother for one on our kids."
Manya went to college in the state of Washington and majored in psychology, Ruth recalled. She lived in Dodge Center for a little while after that and worked at the Mayo Clinic.
"Then she moved to the Twin Cities," she said. "I was shocked when I got the news that she had been killed. Those have been very sad days."
Her voice broke and she struggled to go on.
"Manya could make friends with anyone," she went on. "Personally I'm a better person for having known her. I'm very glad I had the pleasure of knowing her."