Leo F. McNamara, emeritus professor of English, died Feb. 9 at the age of 78.
McNamara was born June 3, 1933, in Clinton, Mass., the son of Leo and Helen (Weaver) McNamara. He received his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1954. The next year he married Barbara Brousseau, with whom he had seven children, then Deborah Lesher in 1980, with whom he had two children.
McNamara chose not to pursue graduate study, but instead began his academic career as a research assistant in the Harvard Psychological Clinic. He was twice a Fulbright Scholar, first in Celtic philology at Queen’s University, Belfast, and later as a Fulbright lecturer in American literature at Trinity College, Dublin.
He joined the English department faculty at U-M as an instructor in 1959. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1962, associate professor in 1967 and professor in 1991. As a generalist, he taught a wide range of courses and was the department’s specialist for Irish literature. He also taught courses on Ireland for the Department of History. He was a longtime honors tutor, adviser and counselor for the department and college, and received the Distinguished Teaching Award, among other honors.
One of McNamara’s most compelling talents as a teacher was his ability to translate his love of literature into stage presentations with the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, University Theatre productions and the Purple Rose Theater.
McNamara was a coeditor of “The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Expository Prose” (1965), an influential textbook for composition courses. He was the author of essays on Irish history and literature, and published an occasional poem or translation.
An LSA secretary to the faculty, he also served in the Alternate Honors Program in English, the University Senate Assembly, and the Medieval and Renaissance Collegium Advisory Board. After his retirement in 1996, he taught for a few years at U-M as professor emeritus, and afterward he taught a Shakespeare course at Ave Maria School of Law.
— Submitted by Laurence Goldstein, Department of English
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