Manuel "Mannie" Kugler served as Chula Vista’s city attorney in 1958 and many of his cases shaped Chula Vista into the city that it is today.
Kugler became the first and only city attorney to successfully win a case for the city of Chula Vista in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1960.
His landmark Supreme Court victory against the Rohr Aircraft Corp. ultimately got him appointed as a South Bay Municipal Court judge by then-Gov. Pat Brown.
Kugler, who had an extensive career in law, passed away on Aug. 2 from what his son said were natural causes. He was 92.
Kugler, a 64-year Chula Vista resident, not only served his city on the dais but was also involved in helping the community.
“This was a dedicated and disciplined man,” said his son Drew Kugler.
His community work included being the director of the Chula Vista Boys Club and a longtime member of the Rotary Club.
He was also a member of the Chula Vista Democratic Club.
Kugler was also the keynote speaker during former President Dwight Eisenhower’s visit to Chula Vista in 1960.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kugler’s journey to Chula Vista was not planned.
He received a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California Berkeley and received a law degree from Hastings College in San Francisco.
After receiving his law degree he started a private law practice in Newman.
He finally settled down in Chula Vista when he went to work as a San Diego deputy district attorney from 1953 to 1958.
Southwestern College governing board member Tim Nader knew Kugler and his family since he was a kindergartner.
Nader said he remembers Kugler best for being an ethical person.
“He was always eager to do the right thing,” Nader said.
Nader said he would often seek Kugler’s advice as he grew interested in a career in law.
Drew said Kugler was the longest active student at Southwestern College.
He studied art at the college for more than 20 years.
Nader said he always saw Kugler on campus taking his studies seriously.
“He was always eager to learn new things and acquire new skills,” Nader said.
Kugler’s work in his community went beyond Chula Vista.
“His interest, especially as he got older, expanded beyond Chula Vista,” he said. “He was a San Diego kind of guy.
Obviously Chula Vista was his home and he never strayed from that.”
Recently he was the lead usher at the Old Globe Theater and was in charge of community programming for the Sierra Club San Diego chapter, in which he received a lifetime achievement award.
Memorial services are to be held on Saturday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, 4910 Front St. in San Diego.
Kugler is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Drew Kugler and Lisa Kailin; daughter Jane Kugler and grandchildren; Devin Kugler, Meris and her spouse Amy Gomez, Faedra Kugler and Alexandra and Marissa Kugler.