On Jan. 4, Peter (“Pete”) Martin McNamara passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Pete was born on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland on Nov. 7, 1942. He was the first-born child of the late Edward and Catherine McNamara (nee McGinty). He was the cherished brother of the late John (Anne) and Patrick (Margaret) McNamara. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ida, his son Peter (Eva), his grandchildren, Jack and Isla, his sisters Bridget Dyczko and Mary Kelly and brothers Anthony (Mary) and Marty (Marian) McNamara. He joins his brothers-in-law, J.P. Kelly and Steve Dyczko in passing.
Growing up, Pete was a gifted Gaelic football fullback and a bright student. At 14, he was sent to the United States for seminary school, leaving behind his parents, siblings, and his native country. Not a fan of the seminary, Pete left to attend West Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio. While there, he became a three-time letterman in American football, a sport he had picked up since moving to the U.S.
After graduating high school, Pete worked as a machinist at Warner & Swasey. While not at work, Pete ran around with his friends Pat Conway and Chris Campbell. He was a champion handball player and won five straight national Gaelic football championships under Father Liam Kitt as fullback for Cleveland St. Pat’s GAA.
Pete was drafted during the Vietnam War and served in the U.S. Army at Sandia Air Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Given his particular eye and fastidious nature, Pete often earned weekends away and was awarded a sharpshooting award for his skill with an M-14 rifle. He was able to kick 55-yard field goals and was offered a four-year scholarship to the University of New Mexico (which he turned down). While in New Mexico, he was set up on a blind date with Ida Enriqueta Lopez, a Peruvian student at the University of New Mexico. Pete and Ida fell in love and were married on May 3, 1969. Shortly thereafter, Pete was honorably discharged from the Army and returned back to Cleveland with his bride.
In 1971, Pete received a call from his Uncle Petey telling him of work opportunities in Chicago. Pete and Ida moved to Chicago’s Southside where Pete began work as a laborer and developed a lifelong passion for the Chicago White Sox. In 1981, with the help of his boss, he became a proud member of the Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150. He went on to become a lifetime member, eventually becoming a certified tower crane operator in Chicago. He would say that while the CEO had a great view, his view from the top of the buildings was even better.
In 1978, Pete and Ida moved to the Lake Killarney subdivision in Cary, Illinois, which would become his home for the rest of his life. He loved entertaining friends, family and neighbors who he counted among his lifelong friends. He loved the peaceful and quiet nature of his house and the scenic farmer’s field behind their house.
Pete was a quintessential family man. His son, Peter (“Little Petey”) Conrad McNamara was born in 1982 and was the apple of Pete’s eye. Pete was incredibly supportive father. He attended Little Petey’s baseball games in Cary, often sitting out in the outfield, where he wouldn’t be seen, but where he could watch Little Petey ply his craft at first and third.
Although he did not attend college, he ensured that his son did so. Pete was beaming when his son graduated from high school, college, and eventually law school. Little Petey followed in his father’s footsteps, beginning his legal career in the Local 150 Law Department.
After retiring from Local 150 in 2009, Pete spent his days swimming at the YMCA with his friends, grabbing breakfast with his friend, Colman, and spending time with his wife, reading the newspaper and watching the news.
Pete loved being a grandfather and spending as much time as he could with his grandchildren, Jack and Isla, and was fondly known as “Grandpa Pete”. He encouraged (read: brainwashed) Jack to be a fan of the White Sox and taught him how to swing a hammer. When Isla was a baby, she would only let one person hold her other than her mom and dad–Grandpa Pete. He was a mainstay at all his grandchildren’s events.
Pete was happy sitting out in his garage, reading the paper, and holding court with neighbors. He loved talking about his beloved White Sox and Mayo GAA. He followed the Chicago Bears and Notre Dame college football. A lifelong parishioner of Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Cary, Pete developed a close relationship with God.
While he identified as a proud American, he never forgot his Irish roots and often took trips across the Atlantic to visit his close-knit family. He never stopped loving his native Achill.
While we have lost a great man of much wisdom, his values live on through his son, grandchildren, and the many people who were fortunate to know him.
May his soul rest in peace.
Till we meet again…
Oíche Mhaith agus Slán go Fóill.
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