RALEIGH — Chris Mangum lived his life the way he rode his bike.
“He had two gears,” said his younger brother, Michael. “One was totally off, and the other was wide open, red-lined, over the top. We laughed about it. It was one of the most endearing parts about him. Sometimes that can get you into trouble, but you have a great time while you’re getting yourself into trouble.”
Mangum was probably having a great time Thursday evening, pedaling up and down hills in training for a race in the mountains in two weeks, when he got into serious trouble. He was traveling south on Lassiter Mill Road when a driver made a left turn across his path. Mangum was unable to stop, collided with the car and was thrown past it. Raleigh police say he died at the scene.
The driver, retired orthopedic surgeon Thomas Castelloe, 81, has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to yield the right of way.
The Castelloe and Mangum families are acquainted.
“There is grace and there is forgiveness,” Michael Mangum said. “We’re going to work through that as a family.”
Historically, the Mangums have done most things as a family, and Christopher Mangum was in the middle of it all.
The third of four children, Chris grew up as his siblings did, familiar with the family construction business, C.C. Mangum Co., started by their grandfather, Cleve Mangum, in 1927. Their dad, William Mangum, later took over the business and used the opportunities presented by the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 to turn it into a success. C.C. Mangum became one of the state’s largest road contractors.
Chris’ favorite part of the business was the rumbling heavy machinery it used to grade and pave parking lots and roadways. When he got his engineering degree from N.C. State University in 1976 and went to work for C.C. Mangum, he began collecting miniature versions of dump trucks, bulldozers, front-end loaders. He parked them on the window sill in his office, on the tables and across his desk.
“I’ll bet he had 50 or 100 of them,” his brother said.
But he liked the real ones even better, and he knew more about them than anyone in the company. He was the fleet manager when the family sold the company to former state senator Fred J. Smith Jr., already a part owner, in January 2010.
Later that year, Chris started his own business, C.C. Mangum Consulting, to help other companies manage their heavy equipment fleets.
“It was an unusual business model,” said John Thompson of J.M. Thompson Co., a Raleigh general contracting company. “He would come in and say, ’I’m going to help you save money, and you won’t pay me until you save some money.’ ”
Thompson, who had known Chris since the 1980s, hired him. Chris, 58, was at Thompson’s office on Thursday, looking for more ways to help Thompson reduce the amount of fuel his machinery consumed and cut down on the amount of time costly pieces sat idle.
Chris Mangum didn’t like to see machinery sitting parked. That was the impetus for the start of an international ministry based in Raleigh that teaches job skills to the un- and under-employed.
In 1996, Chris was doing a parking lot job for Pleasant Hill United Church of Christ in downtown Raleigh, and over lunch with the pastor, the Rev. Donald L. McCoy, Chris mentioned that C.C. Mangum had a parking lot full of dump trucks that weren’t out hauling gravel to paving jobs because he couldn’t find reliable people to drive them.
McCoy told him he had able-bodied men and women in his congregation whose lives were parked because they couldn’t find jobs.
Together, they founded Jobs Partnership of Raleigh, which expanded over time to include additional churches, community groups and other businesses. In 2006, the nonprofit changed its name to Jobs for Life, which provides training materials through churches and community organizations in 220 cities in five countries.
“Churches were saying, we want to go beyond handing out food and clothes, and help people learn how to work so they can take care of their families,” said David Spickard, CEO of Jobs for Life.
“That was all driven by Chris’ passion for work,” Spickard said. “He understood that we’re created to work, first of all, and that it gives us the opportunity to use our skills, our gifts, and to have relationships, community, a sense of purpose and dignity. But it was also fueled by Chris’ deep passion for people in need.”
As much as he cared for others, his brother said, Chris was an introvert who required time alone to think, pray and reflect. Cycling provided that, and kept him fit once his knees rebelled against the football and basketball he had played in his youth and the running and tennis he enjoyed as an adult, Michael Mangum said.
A couple of times a year, he would do 100-plus mile rides, some of which were competitive, some fund-raisers, some just for fun. In between those “century rides,” he often did jaunts of 30 to 60 miles.
He had planned to ride in the Assault on Mount Mitchell on May 20, in which 750 riders pedal the 102.7 miles from Spartanburg, S.C., to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Chris rode in the assault last year, Michael said, and loved it.
Above all, Michael said, Chris loved his family and his God.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia; two daughters and a son; two brothers and a sister; his mother and four grandchildren, all of Raleigh. Chris Mangum’s funeral will be held at noon Monday at Raleigh First Assembly.