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Local leaders remember life and legacy of former Mayor John McNamara

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Former Rockford Mayor John McNamara, whose son is the city's current mayor of Rockford, has passed away.

The City of Rockford says he died Wednesday at the age of 81.

Former Mayor John McNamara was in office through a national recession in the early 1980s and massive job loss in the Rockford area at the time. His work to reform the way the city did business helped the city get back on its feet. He served as mayor between 1981 and 1989.

"Several channels carried him on a message to the city," said Paul Logli, President and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. "It was a message that said 'don't give up, and we're going to get through this.' John led us through some very tough times, but he was always positive about this city."

It was that 'can-do' spirit that leaders who served with him will remember. Logli was Winnebago County State's Attorney at the time Mayor John McNamara was in office. Current Alderman Frank Beach was sworn in on the same night in 1981.

"He was really concerned about building relationships," Ald. Beach said. "Because if you don't have a relationship, it is really hard to do anything with anyone."

John is the father of current Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

“My father was a true servant leader. He served his family, his country and his community,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “He has been my greatest influence in how I’ve lived my life, how I’ve helped lead our great city and how I want my children to live their lives.”

His legacy is one of tackling the toughest challenges, making difficult decisions for the greater good and believing in people as a community's best asset.

"[He was a] loving father, loving grandfather, great sense of humor and very intelligent," Logli added.

"He really had a love for this community and a love for the people," said Beach.

A man, a leader, a public servant. A goodbye from a city that won't soon forget.

James Stratton

James Stratton is the Evening Anchor at 13 WREX and reports for 13 Investigates He joined the team in August, 2018 after working at KWQC TV-6 in Davenport Iowa. His work in Illinois and Iowa has been awarded in both states, along with Edward R. Murrow and Emmy Awards at 13 WREX.

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