ROBERTA MAY (BERT) McNAMARA of Greenwood, Missouri peacefully passed from this life on January
3, 2021. The family is truly blessed to bring Bert home from the hospital to be with her in her final days.
Roberta (Bert) was born March 22, 1929 to Sidney and Carmen Dyer in Kansas City, Missouri. Bert was
the big sister to Emma and Sidney, Jr. They considered themselves latch key kids and Bert and Emma
looked after their younger brother, Sid, and each other, growing up. They often rode the 5-cent
streetcar and on warm summer nights slept on their porch or under the stars at Swope Park like many
families at that time living with no air-conditioning.
Bert and her future husband, Joe McNamara met and grew up in Kansas City’s Sheffield neighborhood
and both attended St. Stephen’s Catholic Grade School. Joe attended De La Salle High School and
Roberta was a student at East High School. After Joe served in the Navy during WWII, Joe and Bert were
reunited. Bert loved to tell the story, “I chased Joe until he caught me.” The two married on a cold
snowy day on January 3, 1948.
As a young couple Joe learned the brick layer trade from his father, becoming a member of Local Union
#4 and Bert became a stay-at-home wife and mother. As their family grew, Joe built new homes for
their expanding family each with a few more rooms and another bathroom. With each move, Joe and
Bert became members of the nearby Catholic parish. After building their house in Raytown, they joined
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, a new church that Joe laid brick. While Joe was working on
Archbishop O’Hara High School, he built their next house behind the school and they became members
of St. John Francis Regis Parish. In their retirement years, they joined Holy Spirit after Joe and Bert
moved into a beautiful brick ranch home they built and, after Joe’s passing, where Bert lived until just
recently. Joe and Bert were a living example of how to fulfill promises they made to each other and God
at the altar on January 3, 1948. They showed their children the importance of loving one’s spouse and
their family no matter what life brings. Joe and Bert passed on their values of faith, hard work, and
honesty. They believed in Catholic education and all seven of their children attended Catholic grade
schools and high schools. Joe and Bert believed trusting in God was paramount and with raising seven
children, it is a must, especially when the cold winter months hit and brick work was hard to find. It was
during one of those times when Joe was working out of town and funds were getting low that Bert
started working at the local P.N. Hirsch Department Store. This was the beginning of a new path in their
lives. After Joe returned home, Bert stopped working retail and from home started altering the men’s
suits sold at the department store. Her sewing career took off from there. Bert never advertised. Simply
by word of mouth, the quality of her work and her dependability spread and her business grew.
Although her family enjoyed the many outfits, shorts, dresses, pajamas, coats, jackets, and toys, she had
never used this talent to earn any money. Bert and Joe found a way to get through those rough winter
months and keep on top of their children’s tuition. The two of them were a team. While Bert sewed, Joe
learned to cook spaghetti, chili and, of course, tacos, staples in the McNamara household.
As Bert’s sewing ability grew, so did her creativity. Bert was not merely a seamstress; she was an artist.
She created all three of their daughters’ wedding gowns using many techniques and patterns while also
sewing all the dresses for the bridesmaids and flower girls. She also sewed wedding garments for both
of her future daughters-in-law, granddaughters, and many others. As an artist, she only saw the
outcome, the result of her work, and not the hours painstakingly spent to sew on beads or finish tiny
details. Bert believed that everything she sewed should look as nice on the inside as it did on the
outside. Her goal was to create something beautiful that the one wearing it would feel proud to wear
the garment she made.
As a mother and grandmother, Bert would start in January and by December, she had sewn her entire
family something new and unique for their Christmas gift; everything from quilted travel bags, dolls,
blankets, pajamas, handmade faux fur coats to cloth teepees. A favorite for many of the grandsons were
the one-of-a-kind boxer shorts, she would sew. They were always a big hit! With Bert, Christmas was
always a surprise that put a smile on everyone’s face. She gave her family something to cherish and
made the McNamara Christmas party memorable.
Bert used her talents to help so many people, schools, churches, and organizations. She repaired
football uniforms, hemmed skirts, sewed cheerleading uniforms; made costumes for plays, sewed
Baptismal garments, church banners, priest vestments, bridal veils, and sometimes just replaced a
zipper or sewed on a loose button for someone who needed it. As a seamstress Bert also sewed for a
variety of organizations and charities such as the American Royal, The Kansas City Chiefs, Children’s
Mercy Hospital, The Boy Scouts, O’Hara High School, and Raytown South High School. She altered, and
repaired so many pieces, it is hard to determine the total number of items or the number of people she
touched with her talent and kindness. With each and every measurement and fitting, Bert met a new
friend or was reacquainted with an old one. Bert loved everyone. No one was a stranger. She always had
encouraging words to say, a hug to give, and a willingness to help anyone.
Bert’s artistic talents were not limited to sewing. She also loved to draw, paint, crochet and try new
recipes. Her patience with her artwork showed through to the very last days of her life on earth, with a
colored pencil in hand, she continued to draw.
Bert was a strong and determined woman. She was a survivor. As a child she survived the divorce of her
parents and consequently the exclusion from some in her community. She survived breast cancer at 40
years of age with seven children at home and she survived the pain and sorrow of the death of a son.
Shortly after Joe, the love of her life retired, she became a widow and a few weeks later the death of her
mother. Although she carried other crosses, too, of surgeries, failing health, shingles, pneumonia, and
living with the isolation due to Covid 19, Bert always bounced back. Her attitude was always upbeat and
believed that with God’s grace and her loving family, she would get through those dark days.
At the end of every Catholic Mass a command is given to the congregation. The presiding priest or
deacon sometimes says, “Go and proclaim the Gospel with your life!” This is exactly what Roberta did.
Bert proclaimed the Gospel by joyfully sharing her talents and love with everyone she met. Bert will be
deeply missed but it gives her family peace knowing that on another cold snowy day, 73 years later on
January 3, 2021, Bert and Joe’s Wedding Anniversary, the two were again reunited living Happily Forever
After with our Lord.
Bert was preceded in death by her husband Joe McNamara, her son John, her grandson Jay McNamara,
her parents Sidney and Carmen Dyer, her stepfather Frank Pope, her sister Emma Blackburn, her father
and mother-law Joe and Gertrude McNamara, Sr., niece Pamela Pecosky, nephew David Sanders, niece Trudy and several sisters and
Bert is survived by children Elaine (Daryl) Whiting, Pat (Lisa) McNamara, Mike (Elaine) McNamara, Ann
(Jim) Julo, Teresa (Dan) Iseman and Thom McNamara.
Bert is also survived by 18 grandchildren and spouses Jenifer (Brian), Sheri (Karl), Kristy, Jamie, Patrick
(Amy), Ryan (Brandy), Lindsay (Kris), Casey (Haley), Kelly (Greg), Michelle (Joe), Kimberly (Jamie), Jim
(Jeanna), Tony, Andy, Christin, Erin (Matt), Danny (Alissa), Caitlin (Michael) and 24 great-grandchildren
and spouse: Amalie, Jaxx, Roch, Jordan (Wyatt), Colleen, Joseph, Mark, Molly, Julia, Chloe, Reagan, Sam,
Maddy, Eddy, Peyton, Makena, Ainsley, Cohen, Zeke, Reuben, Connor, Lucas, Isla and Finnigan and 1
great-great-grandchild Baby Stephens.
Funeral Services for Bert will be held on January 7th, 2021 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Lee’s Summit,
Visitation will begin at 9:00 AM, Rosary at 9:30 AM and Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 AM.
After Mass we will travel to Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri for a Graveside Service.
In lieu of flowers Memorial Contributions may be made to:
The Jay McNamara Memorial Scholarship Fund (Online at)
https://thcf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1880 or Make check to: Truman Heartland, Jay
McNamara in memo line and mail to: Truman Heartland Community Foundation, 4200 Little Blue
Parkway, Suite 340, Independence, MO 64057
Smile Train (Online at) https://www.smiletrain.org/