One of the best co-workers ever. Ate french fries with French onion dip. Loved basketball.
These are just the few qualities and characteristics shared Tuesday at a memorial service for John “Mac” McNamara, a Capital Gazette reporter killed last month during a shooting rampage inside the paper’s newsroom.
A few high-profile mourners attended the service at the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel in College Park, including former Maryland men’s basketball head coach Gary Williams.
“He knew how well the game was played,” Williams said after the service outside the chapel. “I was friends with a lot of writers, but I consider John a friend. You protect your program. You just don’t let too many people get inside. John was one of those people [that] it was just easy to be around him if you were a coach and you [were] a reporter.”
McNamara, who worked at the Gazette for nearly 24 years, died in a mass shooting June 28 inside the Annapolis newsroom.
Memorial and funeral services were already held for the other four staffers killed in the attack: editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiassen, 59; writer and editor Wendi Winters, 65; and sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34.
Police arrested and charged Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, with five counts of first-degree murder. He currently remains at the Anne Arundel County jail without bond.
Ramos held a grudge with the Gazette after a legal dispute with a woman who claimed Ramos harassed her.
Back in College Park, family, friends and colleagues walked inside the chapel to see a picture of McNamara and his wife, Andrea Chamblee, married for more than 30 years.
Besides the picture on a stand included an appointment as lieutenant in the cadet corps at St. John’s College High School in Northwest and tickets stubs to a variety of sports game he attended.
McNamara, who graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983, wrote two books about Terrapin athletics, “The University of Maryland Football Vault: The History of the Terrapins;” and “Cole Classics! Maryland Basketball’s Leading Men and Moments.”
The only family member to speak at the service was his brother, Charlie McNamara, who read a Bible verse from the Book of Wisdom: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them. They seemed in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.”
The most humorous stories came from Mike Ashley, a writer at the Terrapin Times magazine who spoke on behalf of Jeff Barker, a sportswriter with the Baltimore Sun, who paid a tribute to McNamara on June 29 while on CNN as “an old-school journalist” and “the only man who likes the Indigo Girls.”
During coverage of a sports event, Ashely said him and McNamara made fun of a coach who called his offense “multiple.”
“So of course being sportswriters, we would imitate … and adopt their coach-isms into our everyday lexicon,” Ashley said. “So if you ask John how he was feeling, he might say, ‘You know, I’m feeling multiple today.’ We felt like we needed a special app to translate coach-speak into regular, human being language.”
To showcase his diversity, McNamara also covered the city of Bowie for the Bowie-Blade News. He covered a Prince George’s County Council meeting in May when it approved a $4.1 billion budget.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with his wife and all the family members and staff members at the Gazette to try to get through this,” said County Councilman Todd Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie. “Today was a memorial to remember the good things he brought and how we as legislators and the community can bring positive [energy] after a horrible tragedy.”