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Mother, young sons who perished in fire recalled at funeral

With their similar-sounding first names and look-alike dress, brothers Ja'Quis Lucciano Manigo and Tyquis Tyuan Moore enjoyed making people guess which was which. "Pick one," the younger brother, Ja'Quis, would playfully demand.

It was just one of the games the two played together.

The other was football. They wore the red of the Arbutus Golden Eagles. So it was appropriate that their silver and white caskets, side by side at a church altar, were adorned with placards with a red letter "A."

Their teammates wore their jerseys to the funeral Friday.

Tyquis, 11, Ja'Quis, 7, and their mother, Michelle Manigo, 33, died last week when a fire swept through half a city block on South Pulaski Street. The boys' other brother, Marquis, was visiting his grandmother and wasn't home the night of the fire.

Ms. Manigo was seven months' pregnant. So the hundreds of mourners who filled the pews and spilled into the lobby of Philadelphia Christian Church on Mannasota Avenue in Belair-Edison prayed for four souls, not three.

"Don't ever ask God why," thundered the pastor, the Rev. Clarence R. Askins Jr., as he stood before the coffins, each topped with a portrait of the victim inside. "Some of you are grieving today, but I guarantee you, angels in heaven are rejoicing right now."

Investigators are still searching for the cause of the Sept. 22 blaze. On Wednesday, two more people — retired educators and civil rights activists — died in another fire in Northwest Baltimore, bringing the number of city fire victims to a total of 11 this year. A public wake and funeral for Donald E.L. Patterson Sr. and his wife, Jennye Patterson, are scheduled for Wednesday night at Morgan State University.

Hours after the Sept. 22 fire on Pulaski Street, Ms. Manigo's Carrollton Ridge neighbors remembered her as the baby sitter of the block. She would hold court on her porch, keeping an eye on children playing during the day and sharing gossip with adults each night.

Ms. Manigo attended Northwestern High School. An obituary read at Friday's funeral service described her as "courageous, bold, comical and animated," with a "glowing smile" inherited by her sons.

Her brother, Antoine Moore, read a brief poem — "these tears of pain bring on the rain; so help me inside, these tears I cannot hide" — and urged the large family gathered at the church to have a similar showing at their next reunion.

"This is a reminder that life is too short," Moore said.

Tyquis went to Calverton Elementary/Middle School and, like his younger brother, started playing football for the Liberty Lions, part of a city youth league. An obituary distributed in the funeral program noted his love of food and hot sauce, and of dancing. He was recently spotted at the Arbutus homecoming teaching spectators how to dance the "Dougie."

The funeral program described Ja'Quis as rambunctious. His teammates nicknamed him "hillbilly" because he liked to run around barefoot in the mud. Though he reveled in following his older brothers, he was his own man on the football field, the one who pumped up the team.

"He always said, 'Who's got my back?'" recalled Matt Kuhn, president of the Arbutus football league. Then he added, "It should be apparent by this turnout, we all have your back." At a game two days after the fire, the Eagles and their opposing team each played one member short, in memory of the brothers.

Their surviving brother, Marquis, wrote a letter to his mother, Ja'Quis and Tyquis, which was included in the funeral program. He called his brothers "Ty-Ty" and "Ja-Ja," and he said that while they sometimes fought, as siblings do, "I always loved you after."

Marquis noted one brother's love of dance, the other's passion for football, and remembered his mother for "picking me up when I fall."

He concluded, "I will always love y'all."

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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