Beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, professor, and poet passed away peacefully in his home on September 17, surrounded by his loving family.
Eugene McNamara was born in Oak Park, Illinois on March 18, 1930. He attended De Paul University and received his PhD from Northwestern University, both in Chicago. He married the love of his life, Margaret, in 1952. After teaching at the University of Illinois, he moved his family to Windsor in 1959 to teach at what was then Assumption University, later the University of Windsor. He remained in the English Department for 36 years, retiring in 1995, and was named Professor Emeritus shortly thereafter. In 2000, he received the honorary degree of Doctor Of Laws from the University of Windsor.
His accomplishments and contributions to the University and to the city of Windsor during those 36 years are tremendous. He spearheaded the Creative Writing Department which quickly became one of the most respected departments of its kind in Canada. He founded the “University of Windsor Review” and was its editor for over 20 years.
He mentored numerous aspiring writers, many of whom went on to great success. He arranged poetry readings, not just at the university, but also in several locations across the city, putting Windsor on the map as a respected literary destination. He was a poet, a writer and a scholar. His numerous books, collections of poetry and short stories, drew praise from critics across the country. But the real passion in his career was teaching. He loved it all. He was and is one of the most beloved professors the University has ever had. Countless numbers of people have approached him or family members over the years to say that Dr. McNamara was the best professor they had ever had, that he inspired them to learn, to read, to love literature (and film – he created Literature in Film courses and shared his love of movies as a part-time film critic for the Windsor Star.) Many of his students became teachers themselves. Many went on to other pursuits, yet retained that love of books and the beauty that they found there.
In 2008 a scholarship was established in his name. A dinner was held to honour him and to raise funds. Eugene was moved and proud but, in typical fashion for him, he was more excited about being able to give something to students in their academic pursuits than he was about the accolades he received that night.
As much as he was proud of his contributions to the school and the city, Eugene was grateful to Windsor for providing him a place to learn and grow, a place to share his life with his darling wife and to raise and enjoy his family. He always said, “Windsor has been very good for me”.
He was a man who took great joy in the world and people around him, wringing every drop of happiness he could get out of his love of books, music, movies, art, antiques, cooking, traveling and dancing (he was a favourite partner at faculty and other parties because he was one of the few husbands who loved to dance). As immense as his love was for all of these, his greatest loves were his family, his friends and colleagues.
Eugene was preceded in death by his mother Anna Ryan McNamara, his father, Joseph McNamara, his brother, Martin McNamara, as well as sons-in-law Patrick Lobzun, Kevin Donoghue and many friends and colleagues at the University of Windsor.
He leaves, in body only, his wife, Margaret, oldest son Michael and his wife, Judy Holm; daughter, Mary, son David and his wife, Catharine Mastin, son Brian and his wife, Susan (nee Beaudoin); and son Christopher and his wife, Margaret Fong; grandchildren Aaron Holm and his wife, Saira Khan; Caitlin McNamara and her husband Neil Langshaw; Martin McNamara Lobzun; Jennifer McNamara; James and Jeffery Marr; Markus and August Fong-McNamara. Great-grandchildren Olive Holm, Haris Holm, and Joshua Hollywood. His love and spirit remain with them always. Each one of them knows and cherishes the enveloping warmth of his deep love for them.
Heartfelt thanks to Margaret, Kahindi, Johnson, Ravi, Annette and all of the staff at CCAC and Paramed. Thanks also to Natalie and all the people at Home Instead. Many thanks also to Miles and John and all the good people at VON. The support of the palliative team at Hospice was invaluable. Finally, a very special thank you to two friends who are also nurses, Terry Whalen and Sarah Hill, who gave their expertise, along with their love and admiration for Eugene, in numerous ways.
Memorial donations may be made to the Eugene McNamara Scholarship at The University of Windsor or, to carry on Eugene’s love of literature, you may donate a book to a local school or library in your community.
Cremation has taken place. Memorial visitation will take place on Tuesday September 20, 2016 from 3-5 and 7-9 p.m. at FAMILIES FIRST 1065 LAUZON RD. East Windsor, 519-969-5841 Parish prayers at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday Evening. Visitation will continue on Wednesday September 21, 2016 at the Our Lady of Assumption Parish- McEwan Campus 711 McEwan Ave from 10 :00 a.m. until time of mass at 11:00 a.m. Share memories online at FamiliesFirst.ca
“If tomorrow comes and I wake to
find you next to me I’ll know I am
If tomorrow never comes again well
we’ve been there and back again
You are the country I will never ever
fly from like geese in the park close
to home you are the map of far places
home in my heart–”
from “Heart Land”
? for Margaret
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