Bob McNamara, Gophers great, dies at 82 - KMSP-TV

Bob McNamara, Gophers great, dies at 82

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

University of Minnesota football All-American and maroon and gold benefactor Bob McNamara passed away Sunday night at age 82 after a long battle with cancer, a battle friends say he kept quiet.

"He was very private about it," longtime friend Lou Nanne told Fox 9 News. "He didn't like to talk about it."

The Hastings, Minn. native played football for the Gophers from 1951 to 1954 and also played two seasons with the Gopher basketball team. He was a First Team All-American halfback in 1954 and also First Team All-Big Ten in 1952 and 1954, and helped lead Minnesota to a 7-2 record during his senior season, but Nanne says his friend was incredible at many things -- sports, business, family and fundraising.

"Whether he was sick of not, he always maintained a level of enthusiasm," Nanne reflected.

McNamara became an All-Star running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League and later played two seasons with the Denver Broncos. Later, McNamara and his wife, Annette, played a part in the building of TCF Bank Stadium, where he served as an honorary captain for the team during its inaugural game against Air Force in September 2009. Former U of M Athletics Director Joel Maturi was also a close friend, and he visited McNamara in his final days.

"On Tuesday, he was cognizant. We had a good visit. His grip was strong and hearty," Maturi said. "Then, we visited him again on Saturday and you could see that he was fading."

The McNamara Academic Center in the Bierman Field Athletic Building is named for McNamara and his brother Richard – the brothers were teammates on the football field. Yet, Maturi says McNamara had a way of making his friends feel like family too.

"He treated me like a brother and he had six of them," Maturi reflected. "That meant a lot to me, but I think he did that to many of us."

McNamara is survived by his wife Annette, daughters Anne Marie and Suzy and son, Bobby. A visitation service will be held on Friday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Washburn/McReavy in Edina. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday at St. Patrick Catholic Church.

LOVING WORDS

@GophersNow Felt honored going to lunches with Bob McNamara, his brother, Pinky, & legendary coach Murray Warmath at Legends in Mpls yrs back. #Gophers

@1500ESPN_Reusse  Bob McNamara. Great people.

@chipscoggins Second this. Loved spending time and talking to Bob when I was a Gophers beat writer.

@imyourdoug Saddened to hear about the loss of Bob McNamara over the weekend. A great supporter of the Gophers and The U.

@jgkfan A legend and great man MT @GopherFootball: we mourn the loss of All-American, fundraiser and benefactor Bob McNamara.

@tonytquist Thoughts and prayers to the McNamara family. Bob was a great man!


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