Always Giving Back — Dewey and Paul McNamara
Like so many philanthropic-minded people, Dewey and Paul McNamara’s names pop up on donor boards all over town. From Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association to the Ridgefield Library to the Boys & Girls Club to Museum in the Streets, this dynamic duo has made meaningful contributions to numerous organizations.
A practicing lawyer, Paul was elected chairman of Ridgefield Bank in 1987. Subsequently, his guidance morphing it into Fairfield County Bank has been a boon to Ridgefield in numerous ways. Last year alone this hometown bank, which has thrived under Paul’s watch, contributed more a $1 million to 330 organizations, and bank employees logged in more than 4,000 volunteer hours for the benefit of their communities.
Over the years, Paul has himself invested in various Ridgefield properties—creating retail, commercial, and residential spaces that he beautifies with such additions as streetlamps and flowers.
Another boost to the town comes in the McNamaras’ willingness to actually roll up their sleeves and get to work. Both Dewey and Paul are quiet, low-key people, gracious hosts who enjoy simple pleasures like walking Riley, their English cocker spaniel, and both shrug off praise for their good deeds.
Paul has chaired the capital campaign for the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield and was co-chair of RVNA’s capital campaign to construct its new facility on Governor Street. He was a director of the Ridgefield Library and Danbury Hospital development fund and was recognized by Ridgefield Magazine in 2018 as one of Ridgefield’s 25 most influential people.
Dewey is an active volunteer with RVNA and is a past chairman of its services committee. She is also a volunteer with Play for PINK, which raises money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. “It isn’t always money that is needed—it’s often hours of time and ideas,” says Dewey.
To Dewey and Paul, giving back is a natural way of showing their appreciation and support for everything Ridgefield offers. Paul sympathizes with young people today who are juggling so much leaving them little time or resources to give but urges them to do “just one small thing because all those small things add up.”
Dewey and Paul are the well-deserving recipients of the Ridgefield Library’s 2019 Hope H. Swenson Award, which recognizes the couple’s continued support of the Ridgefield Library along with the meaningful contributions they have made in other community organizations. The library recognizes community spirited people at its annual Great Expectations Gala, this year on May 4.
When Dewey and Paul first heard about the award, they were reluctant to take center stage. “At first we were embarrassed—why us? But then we thought that since its part of their fundraising effort, we wanted to do our part,” says Paul. “We love the library and want to do everything we can to help.”
Dewey agrees—if they can do anything to make a great place better, they’re all in. They tick off the many things they love about Ridgefield—the library, Founders Hall, ACT, Ridgefield Playhouse, RVNA, the Boys & Girls Club, the Rec Center, Ridgefield Hardware and Ridgefield Supply, and the multitude of activities to name only a few. Says Paul: “While Connecticut may have its challenges, this town is better than it has ever been.”
The McNamaras moved to Ridgefield in 1970 when Paul, originally from Danbury, began practicing law in what he amusingly calls “the first law firm in Ridgefield—Donnelly McNamara, which had only two employees. Dewey, a former home economics teacher in Stony Brook, New York, where she grew up, became a stay-at-home mom and raised their two children. In 2000, Paul hung up the law shingle to devote himself to Fairfield County Bank. He retired from the bank in 2018, although he still goes to the office most mornings.
The McNamaras, who met at Stratton Mountain, continue to be avid skiers and have just returned from a family ski trip to Austria and Switzerland, which included their five grandchildren. Both are golfers and love to travel, especially to London where their son lives. What they will actually do with more free time they are unsure, but, says Paul, “There’s something that always comes along to fill the basket.”
One thing is for sure. They don’t plan to leave the town they always love coming home to because as Dewey says, “Ridgefield has it all.”