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John Douglas Mann, M.D. (Doug), a distinguished neurologist and beloved family man, peacefully departed this life on the evening of January 19th, 2024, succumbing to Parkinson's disease. Born on April 30th, 1943, in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Earl J. and Vera (Johnson) Mann, he embarked on a journey through life that led to a large, loving family and a long and eminent career as a Professor of Neurology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Mann grew up in St. Charles, Illinois, and graduated from Thompson High School, where he excelled in all subjects and was a basketball and track star. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, graduating cum laude in 1965. He then completed medical school at Cornell University, and went on to do his internship, residency (serving as Chief Resident of Neurology, 1972–1973) and fellowship at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. In 1976, he accepted a position at UNC Chapel Hill, where he would remain for the rest of his career. For over 42 years, he impacted the lives of countless students, patients, and colleagues in profound and positive ways. Dr. Mann was known to make house calls if it was in the best interest of his patients. His work extended to our military and veterans as he did research at Fort Bragg. He leaves an enduring legacy in the medical community at the University of North Carolina and beyond.
Throughout his career in the Department of Neurology, Dr. Mann was a prolific writer and researcher, with direct authorship of or involvement in over 250 abstracts, research studies, book chapters, presentations and peer-reviewed journal publications. He served at various times as, among others: Director of Neurology Outpatient Services; the Director of Neuroscience and Special Senses Section; the Medical Director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Management Program; and the Director of Neurological Education. Dr. Mann had a passion for teaching, and he received the first teaching award ever offered by the Department of Neurology at UNC.
Dr. Mann was instrumental in the leadership of the UNC Program on Integrative Medicine, in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, for over 20 years. His roles included: Director of Clinical Services; Director of the Integrative Medicine Consult Service; and medical advisor for the long-standing UNC medical school elective course on complementary medicine, which was attended by health professions students in medicine, nursing, public health, pharmacy, and other health sciences schools. He was a national leader in integrative medicine research, with multiple NIH grants in the areas of nutrition and mind-body medicine, particularly for management of chronic pain conditions. For 15 years, Dr. Mann was director of UNC‘s prestigious NIH T32 Research Fellowship Program in Complementary and Integrative Healthcare, along with Dr. Susan Gaylord. He was a strong advocate for incorporating evidence-based complementary and integrative therapies into patient-centered healthcare.
Additionally, he took particular pride in having been appointed Chairman of the Biomedical Internal Review Board for the University.
Beyond his professional achievements, Doug was a man of diverse interests and hobbies. He loved all sports but had a passion for UNC basketball, where he had season tickets to see the Tar Heels play for over 40 years, cheering passionately for his team and attending as many games as he could with friends and family. Following in his father’s footsteps, he collected stamps and coins. He dabbled in watercolors and music, taking up banjo lessons in the last months of his life. Doug also loved to explore astronomy, and he amazed his family on many evenings, gazing through his large telescope at planets and other celestial objects. His family fondly remembers Doug taking them out to Jordan Lake in the wee hours of the morning in 1986 to view Halley’s comet through his telescope. That type of spontaneous act, designed to inspire wonder and lasting memories, was not uncommon to those in Doug’s orbit. As a person with wide-ranging interests, he was an avid reader who enjoyed discussing books and always wanted to know what everyone was reading. A scholar and trivia buff to the last, he correctly answered a clue on Jeopardy! two days before his death.
Doug’s curious and open nature endeared him to all who knew him. These qualities, as well as his empathetic and gentle spirit led him to Buddhist meditation and teachings. Doug studied and practiced Buddhist ways of life for several decades.
Doug’s journey was marked not only by professional success and a love of learning, but also by the deep bonds he shared with his family and friends. He is survived by his beloved wife Judy; his son, Bob (Connie) of Charlotte; his daughter, Sarah (Ross Carlson), of Suwanee, GA; and his stepson, Jon Love, of Rock Hill, SC. Doug was a committed and loving husband, father and grandfather. His family benefited immeasurably from his intelligence, guidance and compassion, as well as his famous dry wit. Doug was a fixture at events featuring his children as they grew up (often with a camcorder on his shoulder). He loved to talk about the successes and adventures of his kids and grandkids. His 10 cherished grandchildren (Sydney, Mary Bray, Harper, Elliot, Gavin, Charlie, Morgan, Stokes, Miles, and Levon) knew Doug as “Poppie.” All the grandchildren loved when Poppie would swim with them, take them hiking in the woods behind his house, or attend their tea parties.
Doug is also survived by his brother Robert Mann (Kathryn) of Geneva, IL; his nephew and nieces, Jeff, Julie, and Alison and their families; and his cousin (who he saw as a brother), Jon Duerr (Joy) of St. Charles, IL.
Additionally, the family would like to recognize the unflagging devotion of Angelica Alvarado and her family, whose loving and dedicated care brought peace and comfort to Doug during his final years.
Finally, eternal thanks to all of Doug and Judy’s endlessly supportive and loving friends, as well as Dr. Richard Murrow, Dr. Meredith Gilliam, and all of those at UNC Health Care who contributed greatly to the quality of Doug’s life during his illness.
A celebration of Dr. Mann’s life will be held at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill on Sunday, February 25th, 2024, from 2:00-4:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in honor of his legacy to one of the following organizations:
-To make a donation to the Department of Neurology at UNC so they can continue their battle to improve the lives of those with neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s: J. Douglas Mann - UNC Neurology: https://unchf.org/johnmann
To make a donation to the UNC Program on Integrative Medicine: Make a Gift to Program on Integrative Medicine https://give.unc.edu/donate?f=346208&p=mfye or mail a check to the UNC PM&R Program on Integrative Medicine at 101 Manning Drive, CB7200, Rm# N1183, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7200.
May his soul find peace and may the memories of Doug continue to shine brightly, illuminating the lives of all those fortunate enough to have known him.
Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to serve the Mann family.