SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Having worked in a bank his entire adult life, Rob Fulp has likely seen more physical money than most people. He has yet to see anything, though, as valuable as the silver dollars his mentor gave him years ago.
“Ralph got to shake Eisenhower’s hand…It gave him the courage he needed to perform his mission.”
You see, these aren’t just silver dollars we’re talking about. They’re “Manley Silver Dollars,” a kind of local trophy awarded to people by former Springfield City Councilman, Missouri State professor, and WWII veteran Ralph Manley.
“I remember exactly where I got them,” Fulp told Ozarks First just days after Manley’s death. “I got them in his class.”
As a former student of Manley’s, Fulp says he’s likely watched hundreds of these Eisenhower silver dollars fly through the air toward eager students.
“He always wore a sport coat,” Fulp recalls. “You’d listen when he’d walk into class to see if you could hear them in his coat pockets.”
Manley would eventually take those classroom trophies outside the classroom, lobbing them toward anybody he found worthy.
Jenny Fillmer Edwards, a former newspaper reporter who for years covered Manley during his time on city council, was found worthy four different times.
“I don’t even know why I have this many,” she laughs, holding up the coins. “I think it’s just because I spent a lot of time with him and because I was around when he had one in his hand.”
WATCH: Joy Robertson tagged along with Manley and found out exactly how many he claimed to have given out.
“He told me that he probably handed out 20,000 or 30,000 of these,” Edwards adds.
With 20,000-30,000 recipients, the coins became as popular as Manley himself.
The story behind his calling card, however, isn’t as well known.
Today, only a few locals know the whole story. Jenny Fillmer Edwards is one of them. She says it starts with Manley enlisting as a paratrooper in World War II.
“They’re getting ready to jump for D-Day,” Edwards recalls.
“Like all of the young men that were getting ready to jump, they were probably a little bit nervous. General Eisenhower came out to the airfield and talked to the young men the afternoon before they jumped. Ralph got to shake general Eisenhower’s hand. He said that really put the gumption in him it gave him the courage he needed to perform his mission.”
According to Edwards and Fulp, Manley was one of the only men in his platoon to survive D-Day. His Eisenhower experience and the confidence it brought became something to promote in others.
WANT MORE? WATCH MAYOR KEN McCLURE TALK ABOUT HOW FAR MANLEY’S SILVER DOLLAR REPUTATION STRETCHES.