John McNamara

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Former mayor John McNamara, who led Rockford for eight years in the 1980s, died last week at 81. He was both a leader and a humble man. I'd always call him Mayor when I saw him because he earned it after all. However, he’d usually correct me and ask me to call him “John.”

Former Rockford Mayor John McNamara Dies

Sep 30, 2020
Rockford Register Star (as shared on City of Rockford Facebook)

Former Rockford Mayor John McNamara has died at the age of 81. He was also the father of current Mayor Tom McNamara. City Hall and the Morgan Street Bridge will be lit in multiple colors, reflecting the city’s diversity, from Oct. 1 through Oct. 8 in honor of the late mayor. Plans for a visitation will be announced soon.

The City posted the following on its Facebook page a biography and remembrance of the former Mayor:

Connie Kuntz

Before becoming Rockford's mayor in 2017, Tom McNamara thought his biggest mayoral challenges would be crime and budget. Those remain at the top of his to-do list, but now alongside them is COVID-19. Every day, he makes decisions about the triple threat to Rockford's safety and economy.

"Decisions that get to me, all of them are unpopular," he said. "I mean the easy decisions are usually handled by staffs -- not just at the City, but staffs across the community -- so when decisions come to my desk, they are usually...certainly never easy; pre-COVID or during COVID."