The sixth of eight children, he was born October 8, 1935 in Brooklyn New York to Francis and Elizabeth Mansell.
After graduating from Mepham Highschool in Wantaugh, NY, he attended Brown University, where he met his wife, Carolyn Mayo Mansell, whom he married in 1959 in the Brown University chapel.
After Officer Candidate School, he received his commission in the U.S. Army Artillery later that same year and was stationed in Korea until 1960. During this time he learned some Korean and visited Tokyo. From 1960-1962, he was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, where his daughter Catherine was born.
In 1962, having fulfilled his commitment to the U.S. Army, he moved with his family to the Bay Area. His father-in-law, Dr Frank R. Mayo, was then a leading research chemist at Stanford Research Institute.
Roger Mansell began his career in business in sales with Addressograph-Multigraph in San Francisco.
His daughter Alice was born in Palo Alto in 1963.
In the 1960s and 70s he learned to fly small planes and took the family on several cross-country flights.
During these years he established several of his own businesses, including Mansell Advertsting, Mansell Graphics, and Mansell Publishing. In the 1990s, he relocated his main office to Los Altos, near his wife's office, Mansell Residential Real Estate.
Ever since his daughter Catherine's marriage to Agustín Carstens, a Mexican citizen, in 1986, the Mansell family has had a close connection to Mexico. In 1988, Roger and his wife Carolyn purchased a house in Los Cabos, at the end of Mexico's Baja California California peninsula, where for over two decades, they enjoyed many vacations.
In the late 90s, together with his daughter Catherine Mansell Carstens, who writes and translates as C.M. Mayo, he founded Tameme, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to publishing new writing in English and Spanish from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The literary journal Tameme and subsequent chapbook series featured works by dozens of leading literary figures, among them, Margaret Atwood, Colette Inez, Edwidge Danticat, Alberto Blanco, and Juan Villoro. Board members of Tameme included his Mepham Highschool classmates, author Tom DeLong and poet Harry J. Smith, editor and publisher of The Smith.
During much of the time Roger Mansell was researching the POWs, Catherine (as C.M. Mayo) was researching Mexico's Second Empire / French Intervention, also in many archives in Washington DC, as part of writing her novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, and so they were able to share many dinners and conversations in Washington DC.
Research into Far East POW’s
He was an avid reader, and fascinated by history, and especially the history of World War II. After he retired from a career in business, he began researching the allied POWs of the Japanese, a rich and terrible story that, until he began his work in the 90s, had been largely buried in inaccessible archives.
Since the beginning of Mansell’s project, his chief goal has been to compile a database of more than 100,000 records to document what happened to every Allied soldier who was captured by Japanese forces during the war. Approximately 90 percent completed at the time of his death, the database thus contains information on when soldiers were captured, where they were interned, and whether they died or were repatriated at the end of the war.
In September 2010, the Hoover Institution Library and Archives received his large donation of World War II-era research materials. Consisting of more than fifteen linear feet of documents, some fifteen hours of video recordings, and approximately four hundred published titles, as the Hoover Institution's announcement notes, "the Roger Mansell Collection will be a valuable resource for those interested in studying the roles of prisoners of war during that conflict."
As one result of his research, Mansell has helped several families locate the remains of soldiers who were missing in action during the war; he has also frequently been consulted by researchers around the world seeking information about individual soldiers or the camps in which they were interned.
As historian Linda Goetz Holmes, author of Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun, notes, "his was a legacy to everybody wanting to know about the Pcaific war, not just researchers, but also people who want to know what happened to their loved ones."
He turned his retirement into a full-time job not only undertaking research and elaborating the website, but assisting the hundreds of people who came to his website looking for information about what had happened to friends, fathers, grandfathers, and others. At the annual conventions of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, he gave talks about aspects of his research, and he always brought his laptop computer to be able to assist the many people who had questions about the camps. Linda Goetz Holmes recalls long lines of people waiting to consult him.
He spoke at conferences throughout the U.S., and also in China, where in 2008, he was named a fellow at the University of Shenyang Research center on WWII POWs, at a conference on the Mukden survivors.
As Goetz Holmes says, "Roger showed people how to research." He stressed the importance of sharing the data about the camps and the POWs, and of preserving rare memoirs, books, letters, documents, photographs and more.
In addition to compiling the rosters, he wrote the forthcoming The Forgotten Men of Guam,which tells the story of what happened to the men, both military and civilian (including Pan Am Clipper crews, captured by the Japanese in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Based on over a decade of original and extensive research, including many interviews with survivors, the mansucript, completed before his death, is being edited by historian Linda Goetz Holmes.
Roger Mansell of Palo Alto, California passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on October 25, 2010.
Roger Mansell is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carolyn Mansell; daughter Catherine Mansell Carstens and son-in-law Agustin Carstens, and daughter Alice Jean Mansell.
His surviving siblings are Frank Mansell, Mary Redmond, Joan Eckert, and Margaret Spetnagel.
A Memorial Mass was held on Thursday, October 28 at 8 pm at the Iglesia Santa Catarina in Coyoacán, Mexico City, and a celebration of his research about the allied POWs of the Japanese during WWII and the donation of his extensive archive to the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, will be scheduled soon.