After Martin McNamara Jr. died 26 years ago, his family honored him by establishing the Martin F. McNamara Jr. Honor Scholarship, which provides scholarships based on academic merit to undergraduates in the College of Arts and Science.
Both Martin Jr., BA’32, LLB’32, and his wife, Elizabeth Frazier McNamara, BA’31, attended Vanderbilt and first met as college students.
“Vanderbilt made a great impression on them,” says their son, Martin McNamara III, BA’58. “And the greatest thing they learned was to question everything. To me, that’s the essence of an education. Our parents passed that on to us, and we passed that on to our children, who are passing it on to their children.”
Martin Jr. was an all-time letterman during the glory days of Vanderbilt football. Elizabeth played basketball as a teenager at Hume-Fogg High School. “She was a very accomplished bridge player and something of a math wizard,” Martin III says of his mother, who died last year at age 101.
Martin III is convinced his dad would be proud to know the young men and women who have been recipients of the family’s generosity. “The current McNamara Scholar, Aaron Noll, is just a joy. He walked onto—and made—the Vanderbilt basketball team.”
The one-on-one relationships that have resulted from endowing the scholarship have made it “one of the most gratifying experiences of our lives” for Martin III and his wife, Ann Marie Mathis McNamara, BA’65. Philanthropically speaking, he adds, “In terms of bang for your buck, it’s hard to beat.”
Also supporting the scholarship that honors their father are Martin III’s two sisters and their husbands: Elizabeth (Molly) McNamara Sasser, BA’56, and Dr. William F. Sasser, BA’56; and Matilda (Tillie) McNamara Moore, BA’60, and her husband, Herschel Moore.
Martin III and Ann Marie’s three children—Margaret McNamara Tezak, BA’86; Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) McNamara Wills, BA’89, MEd’02; and Catherine Ann McNamara Grier, BS’91—all followed their parents to Vanderbilt, as did the Sassers’ son, William F. Sasser III, BA’89.