Cover photo for Rudolph Ernest Mancke III's Obituary
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Rudolph Ernest Mancke III

October 21, 1945 — November 7, 2023


Rudolph Ernest Mancke III


Rudolph Ernest Mancke, III., 78, of Cayce, South Carolina passed away on November 7, 2023, following a brief illness.


Born on October 21, 1945 in Atlanta, Georgia, he was the son of Rudolph Ernest Mancke, Jr., and Lera Mixson Mancke.  


Rudy grew up in the Duncan Park neighborhood in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  He spent much of his youth in the woods around his home.  He attended Spartanburg High School and earned a BS from Wofford College.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972 and was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, where he was an X-ray technician.  After his time in the army, he was a teacher of biology and geology at Spartanburg High School.  He and his family moved to Columbia in 1975 where he took on the position of Curator of Natural History of the South Carolina State Museum.  In 1978, Rudy first appeared as the naturalist on the SCETV show NatureScene.  That program ran for 25 years and is available around the world.


Rudy most recently worked as Naturalist in Residence at the University of South Carolina, and hosted “NatureNotes” on SC Public Radio.  He enjoyed spending time in the classroom and in the field with students.  In addition to his primary job, Rudy always found time to speak and lead walks for churches, schools, and other groups.  He immensely enjoyed being able to share the natural world with others and was an integral part of the education of students in South Carolina schools.  


Rudy loved his family. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.  He enjoyed spending time with his entire family at Edisto Beach each summer, and he was always ready to take his grandchildren for a walk in the woods and down to the creek near his home.  His love of nature spread to everyone who was lucky enough to know him.


Rudy is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ellen Talbert Mancke; his children, Will Mancke (Lauren) and Mandy Sherer (Jon), five grandchildren, Eli and Lily Sherer, Fox, Lera and Marigold Mancke;   his siblings, Cathy Tisdale (Norman), Jim Mancke, and Tom Mancke (Jennifer).


Visitation will be held on Friday, November 17, 2023, from 6:00-8:00pm at McAlister-Smith Funeral Home, 200 State Street, West Columbia, SC 29169.


A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 11:00am at Trinity Baptist Church, 2003 Charleston Hwy, Cayce, SC 29033.


In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the building fund at State Street Baptist Church, 1420 State Street, Cayce, SC 29033, or to the ETV Endowment of South Carolina, 401 Kennedy Street, Suite B-1, Spartanburg, SC 29302.


Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at

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Past Services


Friday, November 17, 2023

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Mcalister Smith - State St.

200 State St, West Columbia, SC 29169

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Memorial Service

Saturday, November 18, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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