Gordon F. "Mac" McNamara Sr., the personable Budeke's paint salesman and manager who was known to legions of his Fells Point customers as "Broadway Mac," died Tuesday in his sleep at his Towson home. He was 85.
Gordon Francis McNamara Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised on Durham Street. He attended city public schools and went to work at a young age to help support his family while his two brothers were away fighting during World War II.
Mr. McNamara enlisted in the Army in 1950 and served in Korea in the infantry, where he was awarded three Bronze Stars, family members said.
After being discharged from the Army, he worked in sales for several independent paint retailers, including the Reynold's Paint Co. on Maryland Avenue, Henry A. Knott and then the Lasting Paint Co. in 1957.
Three years later, he went to work for Budeke's, which was at 418 S. Broadway in Fells Point, where he rose through the ranks from salesman to store manager and finally vice president.
"When Mac started with us, we only had one location, and he ran it as if it were his own business," said L. Brian Koerber, who is president of Budeke's Paints and Decorating, a business that was established by his family in 1868.
"He was known as 'Mac' to co-workers, customers and friends, and was a staple at Budeke's for more than 30 years," said Mr. Koerber. "He had an entrepreneurial spirit, was very sharp in business and was customer-oriented. He'd do anything to make a customer happy."
Mr. Koerber's father, Louis V. Koerber, joined the business in 1965, eventually becoming its owner.
"My father learned a great deal from Mac, and he held him in the highest regard. When it came to the business, he trusted him completely," said Mr. Koerber.
Mr. McNamara followed a daily routine that never varied.
"I've known him all my life, and he used to pick me up at 6 a.m. when I was in high school and worked summers at the store," recalled Mr. Koerber.
"He always stopped at Harry Little's on Greenmount Avenue and East 25th Street to eat breakfast. There was a certain waitress there that he liked," he said. "After breakfast, we'd drive to the store, which is on Broadway near Eastern Avenue, and open at 7 a.m. He'd be busy until we closed at 5 p.m."
Mr. Koerber said that Mr. McNamara had a "sharp memory" and "great leadership skills when it came to taking care of customers."
He retired in 1991.
Mr. McNamara had a lighthearted side as well, said Mr. Koerber.
"Mac was a bit of a prankster who played pranks on employees, and they would do the same to him. He was very subtle and smart when it came to humor," he said, laughing. "He wanted it to be a fun place to work, and he built an esprit de corps with his sense of humor."
Mr. Koerber said because they had heavy equipment on the premises that required bearings to be greased, grease became a favorite medium of Mr. McNamara's.
"He'd grease a doorknob, so when someone turned it, they'd get a handful of grease. He'd get a big laugh out of it," said Mr. Koerber.
Another time, Mr. McNamara was behind another grease job when an employee went to the bank.
"It was Gary Rostowski's last day, who was leaving us to go into education. He was sent to the bank on Eastern Avenue, and while he was in there, the underside of his car door handle was greased," said Mr. Koerber.
"When Gary came out, he grabbed it, and after getting a handful of grease, looked around and said, 'I know you're out there,' " he said, laughing.
Mr. McNamara was an inveterate Orioles fan.
Mr. McNamara's wife of 53 years, the former Dorothea Katherine Collins, died in 2001.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road, in Rodgers Forge.
Mr. McNamara is survived by his son, Gordon F. McNamara Jr. of Cedarcroft; four daughters, Kathleen Furlan of Parkton, Dotsie Bregel of Towson, Tricia Morrison of Bel Air and Colleen McNamara Wood of New Orleans; 13 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.