Published in the March 24, 2017 edition
MELROSE — Paul R. McNamara, of Melrose, 83, died at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital on March 18, 2017. Paul was raised in Roxbury and served in the United Sates Air Force for eight years until he was honorably discharged on June 19, 1959. In the 1980s, Paul performed engineering work on the Patriot Missile Defense System at Raytheon. This defensive missile system was first used in the first Gulf War in 1990 to protect Israel, Saudi Arabia, and U.S. troops from missiles launched by Saddam Hussein. Paul was very proud of the work he performed at Raytheon. When he was 56-years-old, a time when most men his age were thinking about retirement, Paul attended a trade school in Barre, Vermont to learn how to engrave headstones through sand blasting. His classmates were all recent high school graduates, but Paul still fit in and learned how to perform cemetery lettering and gravestone engraving. Paul always had an interest in stones and granite. After six months of schooling, Paul graduated and opened his own monument company with his wife, Lois, on Eastern Avenue in Malden. They operated the company for 10 years. Lois did the selling and Paul was the craftsman, sand blasting intricate flower designs, Hebrew lettering, and saints on the monuments. One day on vacation in Maine while reading The Boston Globe, Paul saw some of his work in a photograph on the front page. It was a black slanted gravestone with a picture of a saint and a rose that Paul had engraved onto a gravestone. Paul’s work was always precise and accurate. He even took a Hebrew class from a rabbi at a temple in Malden so that he would know how to properly engrave Hebrew lettering and words on Jewish gravestones. Paul, an Irish Catholic, excelled in the class while his Jewish wife, Lois, could barely keep up with him. In 2005, Paul and Lois moved to Florida and lived there for about 5 years. While in Florida, Paul got his real estate license and began selling condos with Lois. They were the “condominium kings.” This past year was very difficult for Paul. He was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in May 2016, and fought valiantly to try to beat it so that he could continue to watch his grandsons grow up. He was a very proud grandpa! But, the chemo and treatment took its toll on him. He continued to attend and participate in his beloved-AA meetings. In fact, he celebrated his 38th anniversary in AA on July 10, 2016, although he could barely speak, was very weak from the chemo, and was down to about 100 pounds. Through it all, Paul never complained. He kept his sobriety and continued to feel immense pride in being sober and in AA for 38 years. Paul seemed to be beating the lymphoma. In fact, he and Lois went to Florida for two weeks in January. He felt good and they caught up with all their old Florida friends. As recently as March 10, Paul was told by his doctor at Dana Farber that his PET scan showed that the lymphoma was in remission, although he would have to continue to take oral chemotherapy drugs for the rest of his life. But on Wednesday, March 15, Paul’s health began to really fail. He could barely walk on his own. And, sadly, on Saturday, March 18 Paul’s long struggle with lymphoma ended. Paul was kind, generous, goodhearted, and a man of integrity and pride. Simply put, Paul was “the salt of the Earth.” Paul was a wonderful, caring and doting husband, father and grandfather. He had a terrific sense of humor. Paul will be missed by all whom he graced with his presence. Paul was the beloved husband of Lois A. (Goldberg) Karp for 33 years. He was the loving father of Kathleen Saviano and her husband Lou of New Hampshire. He was the stepfather of Debra Soucy and her husband Robert of New Hampshire; and Jeffrey Karp and his wife Heather of West Newbury. He was the cherished grandfather of Jonathan, Alicia, Louie, Matthew, Peter and Jakob. He was the caring brother of Joseph McNamara and the late Bernard McNamara; James McNamara; Margie Grasso; and Katherine McNamara. Visiting hours will be held at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 West Foster St., Melrose on Friday, March 24 from 3:30-5:30 p.m., with a funeral service to follow at 5:30 p.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701. Serenity prayer God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.