Walter J. McNamara Jr., 76, recycling pioneer

Walter J. McNamara, Jr. 76, died at Crystal Coast Hospice House January 28, 2015 after a long battle with cancer. Born in Albany, NY, Walter graduated from Albany Academy and Brown University. He served as a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps from 1961 to 1965, leaving the Corps with the rank of Captain. He worked as a pilot for United Airlines from 1965 until 1998, retiring as Captain of 747-400’s. Walter resided in Ridgefield, CT for 32 years and has been happily settled in New Bern, NC for the past 12.

Walter had a fiercely bright intellect, hilarious sense of humor, and stunningly quick wit. He had the rare ability to follow rules while still seeing what needed to be challenged and changed. His intense energy and great desire to right wrongs led him to develop terrific innovations that benefit United Airlines, his longtime hometown in CT, and his family and friends.

Walter started the first recycling center in the state of Connecticut in the 1970’s. His legacy stands today as the Walter J. McNamara, Jr. Recycling Center, which processes tons of recycling for the town of Ridgefield each year. While at United Airlines, Walter was active in the Airline Pilots Association. During a strike, Walter developed the Family Assistance Fund, allowing pilots and other airline employees to help each other through the tough financial times of a strike. This innovation was adopted by other airline unions and remains to this day. In the 1990’s Walter moved to a home on Mamanasco Lake in Ridgefield, which he gutted and renovated almost entirely himself. It was then that he became active in the Mamanasco Lake Improvement Fund, and spent a lot of time working to preserve the quality of the lake. He loved rowing on the lake and appreciating its beauty from his property.

Recent years have seen Walter turn his energy to flying his 1943 Seabee seaplane, traveling with his love, visiting family, and building furniture. Just a few months ago, he completely refurbished his rowboat to give to his grandchildren. Most of all, Walter had two simple and deep loves: his family and flying. He was known to tell people that his two daughters were his biggest accomplishment.

Walter is survived by the woman who has been his love and rock for 15 years, Lorraine Furia of New Bern; his daughter Betsy McNamara, her husband Dan Habib and their sons Isaiah and Samuel Habib of Concord, NH; his daughter Jill McNamara, her husband Ty Bachmann and their sons Drew and Brady Bachmann of Beaufort, SC; his sisters Mary Nathan and her husband Richard of Celebration, FL and Ellie Kazmier and her husband Gerald of Santa Ana, CA; his step-daughters Merri Boswell, her husband Bryon and their sons Pete and Josh of Breinigsville, PA, and Missy Oppizzi, her husband Dave and their sons David, Dean and Daniel of Rye Brook, NY; and, his former wife Jean DesBarres of Amelia Island, FL.

A Celebration of Life will be held from from 11AM to 1 PM on Sunday, February 15th at Pollock-Best Funeral Home. Online condolences may be made to Memorials, in Walter’s name, may be made to CCHC Foundation 1010 Park Ave, New Bern, NC 28562, or Crystal Coast Hospice House 100 Big Rock Weigh, PO Box 640, Newport, NC 28570,, in appreciation of the wonderful care they provided Walter.

—by the family