Death Classification: Performance of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 21 years, 0 months, 8 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 11th District - Harrison

District of Incident (Present Day): Pheonix, AZ

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Illness - Cardiac Arrest

Age at Time of Death: 45


Date of Birth: 24 Apr 1934

Date of Appointment: 01 May 1958

Date of Incident: Pheonix, AZ

End of Watch: 09 May 1979

Date of Interment: 12 May 1979


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Queen of Heaven Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Not Enshrined

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 3

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Does Not Qualify

Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed



 Military Service: Did Not Serve


Incident & Biographic Details

Captain Nicholas Joseph McNamara, Star #170, aged 45 years, was a 21 year, 0 month, 8 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 11th District – Harrison.

On May 9, 1979, Captain McNamara died of a heart attack while in Phoenix, Arizona attending the Northwestern Traffic Institute nine month management course. He began the course on September 14, 1978 and as part of his curriculum entailed a field trip to Phoenix, Arizona to study a problem. He flew out of Chicago on May 6, 1979 arriving in Phoenix that evening. On May 8, 1979 he took part in the Phoenix Police Department’s Training Academy obstacle course. The obstacle course consisted of an uphill 320 yard course in which participants would navigate under, through or over certain obstacles. Captain McNamara was last seen alive at 10:00 p.m. on May 8, 1979. He had attended a dinner with Lieutenant Gerald Clough of the Philadelphia Police Department, complained about feeling ill, and retired to his hotel room, #1225, for the evening. Both men had rooms at the Adams Hotel, located at 100 North 1st Street, Phoenix, Arizona. Their rooms were adjacent to each other and when Lieutenant Clough knocked on the Captain’s door to wake him at 5:25 a.m. the next morning he received no response. Concerned, the Lieutenant notified Hotel staff and Engineer Fred Wisenburg responded. Mr. Wisenburg opened the room and Captain McNamara was found lying face up across his bed unresponsive. Captain McNamara was pronounced dead at 6:25 a.m. on May 9, 1979. Through investigation it was determined that Captain McNamara suffered a heart attack and died of natural causes due to Acute Coronary Insufficiency related to the strenuous physical activity the day before.

Mrs. McNamara was awarded one years salary and $20,000 in duty death benefits was ordered paid by the State of Illinois Court of Claims following the Captain’s death.

Captain McNamara was waked at Matz Funeral Home located at 3440 North Central Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Bartholomew Church located at 3601 North Lavergne Avenue. He was laid to rest on May 12, 1979 in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, 400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 2, Lot 101, Block 15, Section 22.

Captain Nicholas Joseph McNamara, born April 14, 1934, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on May 1, 1958 and was issued Star #11763. On January 2, 1962, he was promoted to Sergeant and issued Star #1373. On April 9, 1976, he was promoted to Lieutenant and issued Star #219. On February 16, 1979, he was promoted to Captain and issued Star #170.

Captain McNamara was a member of the Chicago Police Captains’ Association and the St. Jude Police League. He was survived by his wife, Dolores F. (nee Nelson), age 43; children: Mary Eileen, age 19; Nicholas Michael, age 16; Patrick Joseph, age 15, Patricia Ann, age 21, Susan Marie, age 18 and Timothy Ernest, age 7 and siblings: James Andrew and Margaret Ann.

Incident Recorded under Phoenix Police Department DR #79-048969.