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John McNamara, slain in Maryland shooting, remembered as a mentor to young journalists

Reporter John McNamara of the Capital Gazette.
Reporter John McNamara of the Capital Gazette. Baltimore Sun/Associated Press

John McNamara was an old-school reporter.

‘‘Definitely a pen and paper guy,’’ said David Elfin, who co-wrote a book on University of Maryland basketball with McNamara. ‘‘He didn’t wear a fedora, but maybe he should have.’’

McNamara worked at the Capital Gazette for more than 20 years, covering everything from local politics to professional sports. Friends, colleagues and young journalists he mentored remember him as a kind person and diligent reporter - someone who earned the trust and respect of his co-workers and sources alike.

When David Deutsch, the former city manager in Bowie, Maryland, retired, McNamara wrote about his legacy. Two years later, Deutsch remembered him as a ‘‘genuinely good guy.’’

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The two stayed friends and had talked on the phone just hours before McNamara was shot. They made plans for a dinner date in July, them and their wives.

Elfin, who knew McNamara for more than 30 years, said the two met as young, part-time reporters covering high school sports for The Washington Post. The two formed a bond during the 1983 blizzard. Snowed in at work, Elfin said The Post put them up for the night at the Vista International Hotel. Seven years later, after District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry was arrested there on cocaine charges, McNamara and Elfin joked that they had made the hotel famous first.

Decades later, while covering a University of Maryland basketball game, McNamara met a reporter about as old as he was during that blizzard.

‘‘He took a real vested interest in me,’’ said Connor Letourneau, then a student journalist at the University of Maryland, College Park. ‘‘He was the epitome of the type of veteran sportswriter you want to meet when you’re coming up.’’

Letourneau, now a sports reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, said McNamara was a mentor to him and other young journalists, often taking time to read over stories or talk about the newspaper business.

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McNamara, who also wrote a book about University of Maryland football, loved what he did, Elfin said.

‘‘He cares passionately about the D.C. area and, specifically, about the University of Maryland,’’ he said.

McNamara is survived by his wife, Andrea Chamblee.