Judy McNamara, 93, of Davenport, who charmed and entertained us, died on Thursday, May 16th. She is survived by two daughters Meg McNamara (Denny Mohrman) and Ann McNamara (John Brooke) both of Davenport.
The family will greet friends Monday, May 20, 4-7 at Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home, 614 Main Street in downtown Davenport. Cremation rites have been accorded and a private burial will take place at a later date. Donations can be made to Quad City Symphony Orchestra or your favorite charity.
She was born Ella Judd Mitchell on February 22, 1926 in Rock Island, the only child of Ada and Fred Mitchell who named her after her grandmother. She was called Little Judy Mitchell and practiced her social skills by visiting neighbors carrying her purse and powderpuff with her before she entered school. During recent drives into her old neighborhood she could still identify the original home owners within a three block radius.
Judy had an indomitable spirit which was evident even as a little girl. Her father once punished her by locking her in a closet for a brief period. When they opened the door it was clear she had tried on most of her mother’s clothing and when freed she was wearing an interesting theatrical outfit and heels.
She graduated from the Villa De Chantel in Rock Island. The Sisters of the Visitation recognized her theatrical talent and offered her private lessons. She attended Lake Forest College and graduated with a degree in Theater and English. She lived in New York for a time to pursue her love of acting on Broadway and went on to perform in plays from coast to coast and here in the Quad Cities.
While living in Chicago and Des Moines, she worked in television and radio. She was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Quad City Pops Concert for six years. The scripts she created for those performances had her hand written notes in the margin; “Speak with a smile in your voice,” and she did. She accompanied the symphony on visits to schools and provided narration for “Peter and the Wolf.” She was a contest winner in her reading of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and the White Cliffs of Dover. She could still recite the latter with prompts at age 90 while awaiting a surgery.
She married Jack McNamara in 1948 whom she met at 14. She supported his education at Dartmouth while he pursued a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and later a master’s in Aeronautical Engineering on a Guggenheim Fellowship at Cal Tech. He worked at John Deere and trusted her instinct about those he managed and later as an executive with the company. Jack preceded her in death in 1976.
Judy devoted herself to a lifetime of service to her community. In Des Moines she was active with the Junior League, Des Moines Community Playhouse and served the Des Moines Art Center in a variety of roles. She was the Scott County Chairman for Terrace Hill Renovation appointed by the Governor. In the Quad Cities she headed fund drives for the Kahl Home and Marycrest College. She was on the board of directors for Iowa Public Television, Playcrafters, the Outing Club and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. She was a long-time volunteer reader with WVIK’s network for the blind. She was on the Advisory Board for the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society and chaired the Lalo Schifrin concert, the “Sound of Bix.” She was appointed to and served on a number of committees for the City of Davenport, the River Center, the Skywalk Commission, the RKO Orpheum Renovation and chaired the Opening Gala for the Adler Theatre. She was a member of the Arsenal Golf Club, Colonial Dames and Tuesday Club.
Judy will be remembered best for her engaging conversation and incredible sense of humor which translated easily to her writing a monthly column for the Moline Dispatch Gold Book for 20 years. Her signature sign off was “Until next time Susie QC.”
Until next time, Mom.