Patrick V. McNamara

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Patrick V. McNamara
Patrick Vincent McNamara.jpg
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
January 3, 1955 – April 30, 1966
Preceded by Homer S. Ferguson
Succeeded by Robert P. Griffin
Personal details
Born (1894-10-04)October 4, 1894
North Weymouth, Massachusetts
Died April 30, 1966(1966-04-30) (aged 71)
Bethesda, Maryland
Nationality American
Political party Democrat

Patrick Vincent McNamara (October 4, 1894 – April 30, 1966) was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as a United States Senator from Michigan from 1955 until his death from a stroke in Bethesda, Maryland in 1966.

Early life and career[edit]

Patrick McNamara was born in North Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Patrick Vincent and Mary Jane (née Thynne) McNamara, who were Irish immigrants.[1] The oldest of eight children, he received his early education at public schools in his native town.[2] He attended the local high school for two and a half years before transferring to the Fore River Apprentice School in Quincy, where he learned the trade of pipe fitting.[3] In 1916, he began working as pipe fitter and foreman at the Fore River Shipyard.[1] He then played semi-professional football from 1919 to 1920.[2]

Mr. McNamara moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked as foreman of a construction crew for the Grinnell Company. He then married Kathleen Kennedy ( no relation to John F. Kennedy ), with whom he had 2 children. Mary Jane ( 1922 ) and Patrick ( 1925 ), sadly Mrs. McNamara passed away in 1929. He then married Mary Mattee in 1930, ( edited by his great-granddaughter ). He then served as job superintendent for R.L. Spitzley Company (1922–1926) and general superintendent of H. Kelly Company (1926–1930).[1] From 1930 to 1932, he took extension courses at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.[3] He was maintenance foreman at a Chrysler plant (1931–1934) before joining the Donald Miller Company.[1] In 1937, he became president of Pipe Fitters Local 636, a position he held until 1955.[3] He also served as vice-president of the Detroit chapter of the American Federation of Labor from 1939 to 1945.[2]

During World War II, he served as rent director of the Office of Price Administration in Detroit from 1942 to 1945.[4] He then joined the Stanley-Carter Company, where he served as superintendent of construction, customer contact man, head of labor relations, and vice-president.[3]

In 1946, McNamara made his first venture into politics with a successful campaign for an unexpired term on the Detroit City Council.[4] He won twenty-one of the city's twenty-three wards, and served until 1947.[3] From 1949 to 1955, he was a member of the Detroit Board of Education.[4]

U.S. Senate[edit]

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis meeting with Senator Patrick V. McNamara.

In 1954, McNamara challenged former Senator Blair Moody for the Democratic nomination for a seat in the United States Senate.[1] He was given little chance of defeating Moody by most political analysts, but won the nomination after Moody died two weeks before the primary election.[2] He faced two-term Republican incumbent Homer S. Ferguson in the general election, during which McNamara criticized President Dwight D. Eisenhower's economic, labor, and farm policies.[2] In November, he narrowly defeated Ferguson by a margin of 51%-49%.[5]

McNamara was reelected over Alvin Morell Bentley in 1960, serving from January 3, 1955, until his death in Bethesda, Maryland. In the Eighty-seventh Congress, he became the first chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. He also chaired the U.S. Senate Committee on Public Works in the Eighty-eighth and Eighty-ninth Congresses. The 1959 committee hearings which Pat McNamara called on the subject of the health of the elderly began a public debate which led to the creation of Medicare.

He died of a stroke at Bethesda Naval Hospital on April 30, 1966, aged 71, and was interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.[6]

McNamara was a member of Americans for Democratic Action. The Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit was named for him.


  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Services Held in the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, Together with Remarks Presented in Eulogy of Patrick V. McNamara, Late a Senator from Michigan. 89th Cong., 2nd sess., 1966. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1967.


  1. ^ a b c d e The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Company. 1970. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Senator Patrick V. McNamara, Michigan Democrat, 71, Is Dead". The New York Times. 1966-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Current Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1956. 
  4. ^ a b c "McNAMARA, Patrick Vincent, (1894 - 1966)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  5. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 1954" (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 
  6. ^ Zainea, Leo (May 2, 1966). "Tributes made to McNamara" (PDF). Michigan State University State News. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Homer S. Ferguson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Michigan
Served alongside: Charles E. Potter, Philip Hart
Succeeded by
Robert P. Griffin
Political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Chavez
Chairman of Senate Public Works Committee
Succeeded by
Jennings Randolph