Welcome to the memorial page for

Thomas Vincent McNamara

December 27, 1929 ~ September 18, 2017 (age 87)

Thomas Vincent McNamara passed away at the age of 87 on September 18th, 2017 at the Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Thomas ("Tiv") was born on December 27, 1929 to Thomas and Sarah (Mulqueen) McNamara in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland.

Survivors include devoted daughter Sarah Pellerin (Wayne) of Greenfield Center, NY, and son Thomas of Gansevoort, NY, their mother Olivia Jean McNamara of High Falls, NY, and grandson, Sebastian.  He is also survived by his sisters Mary McNamara (Sr. Maria Goretti) of the Sisters of Mercy in London, England, Brid Hogan (Frank) of Ennis, Ireland, Bernadette Hopkins of Cavan, Ireland, and dozens of nieces and nephews in Ireland and throughout the world.  In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by brothers Michael "Mico" and Francis, and canine companion "Shep", a German Shepard Husky mix.

At 18 years of age, Tom left a pastoral life in Ireland and emigrated to America with $50 in his pocket in search of work.  Hit immediately with culture shock, he had a difficult time adjusting to the noise and busyness of New York City compared with the rural landscape of Ireland. He settled in with relatives in the Bronx and began the process of applying for citizenship to the United States while working at a local grocery store.  Tom was in the country less than a few months when he was drafted into the Army for service during the Korean War.  He was deployed to the Bavarian city of Augsburg, Germany with the 28th Infantry Division, a unit of the Army National Guard as an armorer to support NATO forces amid concerns of Soviet advance on Western Europe.  He obtained U.S. naturalization in 1953 and continued his military service in the Army Reserve.

One of Tom's first professions in America was at the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he walked the track tunnels eastbound under Manhattan searching for leaking salt water and later maintained telegraph and electrical circuits in the tunnels.  He worked for the railroad for 15 years.  In the 1950s through the 1970s, he continued to live in the Bronx and then Harlem while working as a radio satellite engineer for WLIB-FM 107.5 in Manhattan and sister stations WLIB-AM 1190 and WBLS-FM.  During his time there, the station format changed from serving New York's Jewish community with mostly classical music to serving as a voice for the African American community, becoming the first country's African American owned radio station.  He maintained broadcasting equipment on site at locations around Manhattan and every Thursday he enjoyed going to the top of the Empire State Building to check station antennas, and as most people did in those days, would put his paper coffee cup out the window to watch it float up instead of down.  Additionally, he worked for WAUB-AM 1590 in the Finger Lakes region, WIZR in Johnstown, NY and WBNR-AM in Beacon, NY.  He lived in several upstate NY and Hudson River towns during this time and was dedicated beekeeper, a McNamara family tradition.  At one time, he had 13 hives.

As his work and personal life was migrating upstate, Tom purchased and cleared land in Rosendale, NY and built a home by hand to raise his family in.  After commuting and living part time on Sherman Ave. in northern Manhattan, he took a job as a welder for Quickway Metals in Newburgh, NY to be closer to his upstate home.  He came to serve as an expediter for the company and one of the projects he worked on included the construction og the Newburgh Beacon Bridge over the Hudson River in the late 1970s.  His last major project before retiring was construction of Javitz Convention Center in New York City in the 1980s.  Tom belonged to the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters and was an especially proud member of the International Brotherhood of the Boilermakers.

In his retirement Tom continued to stay busy.  He performed maintenance and grounds keeping at a biomedical research lab, was a pruner at Hudson Valley area apple and pear orchards, and sold log splitters at a local home improvement store.  In his 70s, Tom moved further upstate to Albany and volunteered on the Half Moon Henry Hudson replica ship, performing maintenance on the ship and educating school kids.  He sailed on the Hudson River between Albany and Manhattan and experienced the thrill of successfully steering the ship under the Tappan Zee Bridge, known for its tight clearance (2 feet) between the boat's mast and the highest point of the bridge.  He was proud to have sailed on the boat in New York Harbor aside the Twin Towers in the final days before the 9/11 attacks.  He was also an avid volunteer with the Church of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Albany.  In his 80s, he moved to Saratoga Springs where he enjoyed daily treks on the Skidmore College campus, family dinners, shuffleboard and occasional volunteering.

Tom loved fresh air, long walks, beekeeping, and tinkering on old cars and machinery.  He was always up for adventure and learning something new.  He loved live music and street festivals, fireworks, apple season, a warm wood stove and road trips.  An avid horticulturalist, he loved tending to his garden and sharing that passion with others.  He kept a robust garden at the Community Garden of the Capital District in Albany and more recently at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden.  He read voraciously and was a vast repository of knowledge on topics of all kinds.  He was a hard worker and kind.  Fiercely independent and often times downright pessimistic, there was a sharp wit and funny, sarcastic tone to his humor.  He was strong in mind and body, fighting the aging process and health deterioration with brave diligence and grace.  He had a deep heart.

The family wishes to thank all those who cared for Tom during his time at the Wesley Health Care Center.  There will be a private burial with military honors at Saratoga National Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, please plant a tree or grow a garden in Tom's memory.

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