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Capital Gazette's John McNamara eulogized as exemplary reporter who loved sports, community journalism

Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A St. John's College High School diploma, Class of '79. A letter from former Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams, saying of his 2008 team, "We have a chance to be young and good next year." A ticket to a Bruce Springsteen concert at Hersheypark.

Bits and pieces of the life of John McNamara were all over the University of Maryland, College Park Chapel Tuesday. They illustrated his passions for sports, journalism, the University of Maryland, classic rock and his family, though perhaps not in that order. They were mementos of a life lived well and fully, cut short by a killer's blind rage.

McNamara, 56, a sports writer and editor for the Capital Gazette newspapers for more than two decades, was one of five victims of the June 28 rampage at the Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis. Also slain were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34; and reporter Wendi Winters, 65. A 38-year-old Laurel man, Jarrod Ramos, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in their deaths.

On Tuesday, McNamara was eulogized during a 90-minute memorial service in College Park attended by more than 300 people, including co-workers, family and even some of the people he wrote about -- such as Williams.

Fellow sportswriter and editor Gerry Jackson of The Baltimore Sun, formerly of The Capital, remembered his longtime friend as someone who would always help a young reporter learning the ropes, or lend a hand to a harried colleague.

"He never left the office without first asking, 'Is there anything I can help you with?' " said Jackson, pausing to get the words out. "He was so considerate."

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Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson, whose relationship with McNamara also goes back decades, said he always appreciated his skills as a reporter -- skills that included being fair and nonpartisan and getting his facts straight.

"John was an honest man and a straightforward reporter," Robinson said in one of several eulogies given from the chapel altar, "a shining example of his chosen profession."

Johnny Holliday, beloved by fans as the voice of the Maryland Terps, remembered McNamara as someone who knew what it meant to be a journalist for a community newspaper, and loved it.

"He especially loved covering kids' games, and giving those little kids the chance to see their names in the newspaper," Holliday said in his eulogy.

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