Joseph Manch was born in Lamza, Poland, on January 1, 1910. When he was six years old, Manch’s father took up rabbinical duties, and moved the family to Niagara Falls, New York.
Manch attended School No. 32 and Hutchinson-Central High School in Buffalo. He received three degrees from the University of Buffalo: B.A. in 1932, M.A. in 1940, and Ph.D. in Education in 1955. During his student days at the University of Buffalo, Manch was a champion wrestler, boxer, track man, and football player, as well as a class poet. He was inducted to the University of Buffalo Athletics Hall of Fame in 1979.
In 1932, Manch took his first teaching job at the Kohut School for Boys in Westchester County. He taught there for two years before returning to Buffalo. After teaching English at several high schools (Bennett High, Seneca Vocational High, South Park High, Kensington High, and Veterans Evening High), Manch received first his administrative post as a Director of Guidance in 1948. In 1953, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personal Services. Two years later, he became Associate Superintendent for School Community Coordination.
At the age of 47, Manch was named Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools. He held the position until his retirement in June 1975. Manch was superintendent of the one of the largest school systems in New York during the urbanism and civil rights movements. His idea of developing vocational schools later got nation-wide attention and he made efforts to integrate Buffalo public schools throughout his term. His tenure was not without controversy, however; issues such as delaying school integration, inadequate behaviors of Mrs. Slominski (School Board member), a lawsuit against Philip Patti (Principal of School No. 64), and Manch's exclusive extended re-appointment for the Superintendency were raised during his term.
Manch’s devotion to the educational field was recognized by various institutions. He won Man of the Year (1958), American Educators Medal of the Freedom's Foundation (1959), The Human Relation's Award of the Urban League (1962), President Medal from Canisius College (1964), and the University of Buffalo Distinguished Alumni Award (1972), as well as the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal (1977), which the University of Buffalo’s highest honor.
After his retirement, Manch took various honorary positions at the University at Buffalo. He was involved in the Educational Opportunity Center, Community Advisory council, Society of Educational Administration, and Alumni Association. He also taught graduate courses at Canisius and Medaille Colleges and the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State College and served as a trustee of Erie Community College.
Manch was also a long standing member of the Board of Directors of many local agencies and institutions throughout his life: Buffalo Museum of Natural Science, Community Welfare Council, Western New York Committee for Education on Alcoholism, Buffalo Urban League, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Buffalo Hockey Club, Old Fort Niagara Association, Jesse Ketchum Memorial Fund, Empire State FM School of the Air, United Fund of Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and United Jewish Federation as well as the Erie County Chapter of the various educational associations.
Manch was the author of many articles on education. He was also able to combine his personal interests in photography and creative writing when he published two books including a collection of his poems and photographs, City is People (1972). Manch was a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists and an honorary member of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and Professional Photographers Society of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier. He had held a series of photography exhibits, usually for the benefit of charitable or cultural institutions, and received many awards for his photographs, including prizes from the Buffalo Society of Artists and various Western New York shows.
On June 1988, Manch died in Buffalo General Hospital at the age of 78.