The Death of a Colleague
Chuck MacNamara wrote for Gold Coast magazine for 40 years. His most recent piece, ironically, was a reflection on the life of former Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, who died in September. Chuck followed him last week. The attached obit from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer mentions that he was lame from polio, a word we rarely hear these days. It happened when Chuck was 16 and a budding track star. He dragged an inert leg around for the last 61 years. Eventually it put him a wheelchair. That handicap did not stop him from working, first at Philadelphia Magazine, and for the last 35 years as a freelancer, often for our Florida magazines.
He was an editor’s dream. His copy was almost always flawless, never an inaccurate statement, rarely even a typo. You could call him on short notice, as we did with the Claude Kirk piece, and ask if he had anything for our Undercurrent section. Days later we got the piece.
Chuck liked a drink. One day at lunch at Bookbinder's across from our office in Philadelphia, he was on his third martini. A companion said, “Chuck, do you realize every time you drink one of those see-thrus you kill 300,000 brain cells?” Chuck reflected briefly, then slowly raised his glass, and, sipping, replied, “I just hope my brain holds on as long as Winston Churchill’s.”
He did not quite make it. But he was close.
CHARLES ‘CHUCK’ Before Google there was Chuck MacNamara. MacNamara, one of the editors who helped pioneer the city magazine concept at Philadelphia Magazine, died Jan. 6, 2012 from heart failure at Morrisville Presbyterian Apartments in Morrisville, Pa. He was known for his extra-ordinary range of knowledge and memory for detail. A 1957 cum laude University of Pennsylvania graduate, he joined Philadelphia Magazine in 1959, and was legendary editor Alan Halpern's right hand man as the magazine grew from an obscure business magazine called Greater Philadelphia Magazine to a publication which won national acclaim in the 1960s. MacNamara wrote entertainingly about often obscure or historic subjects, complementing the work of investigative reporters such as Gaeton Fonzi and Greg Walter. It was MacNamara who introduced his Penn classmate Fonzi to the magazine. He helped invent sections such as ‘Top Docs’ and ‘Best and Worst’ which have since been imitated by hundreds of local magazines. MacNamara was a shareholder in Gold Coast magazine in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. in 1970 when it was bought by his former Philadelphia Magazine colleague Bernard McCormick. After leaving Philadelphia Magazine in the 1970s he wrote numerous articles over the years for Gold Coast and other Florida publications owned by the same company. His most recent piece was in the January issue of Gold Coast. He also wrote an introduction to a soon-to-be-published book on the birth of city magazines in Philadelphia. MacNamara was born in Phila., and lived in Birmingham, Ala. before his family returned to the Lansdowne area. After suffering polio as a teenager, he wore a leg brace for the rest of his life and was confined to a wheel chair in recent years. He is survived by sisters Barbara Lucash of Morrisville and Judith Anderson of Drexel Hill: 3 nephews and a niece and 2 great nieces and a great nephew."