John Herbert McNally, 83, of Monroe City, died Dec. 22, 2009, of natural causes at his home, surrounded by his large and devoted family.


John Herbert McNally, 83, of Monroe City, died Dec. 22, 2009, of natural causes at his home, surrounded by his large and devoted family.
Mr. McNally was born July 3, 1926, in Hannibal, to Vivian Pike McNally and Hugh Joseph McNally. He attended Stoutsville School and Holy Rosary (Elementary) in Monroe City, where one of his aunts, Sister Hubert McNally, taught. As a boy he served Mass frequently for Father Edward Connolly and worked after school delivering the Hannibal Courier-Post. He attended Holy Rosary High School, excelling in academics and sports, and graduated in 1943.
That year Mr. McNally enlisted in the Navy, which became his primary career. He was selected for the V-12 program at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo., and transferred to the Naval ROTC at the Rice Institute in Houston, Texas, where he received his commission as an Ensign in the Naval Reserve. After the war, he returned to Missouri, working at Clark Motor Sales on Highway 36, and then at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., in Hannibal.
In the mid-1950s, he transferred from the Reserves to active duty and began “the best job in the world.” As an officer in the Naval Security Group, later part of the National Security Agency (NSA), he worked in the field of electronic intelligence. He was stationed in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Nebraska and California, as well as Germany. He received a promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 1960. In 1962, he served as operations officer aboard the U.S.S. Oxford, which was first to discover evidence of the USSR’s intention to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. The deployment included ports in South America as well as Guantanamo Bay, where his ship was the first to bounce radio signals off the moon. After two years of studies at the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., he completed a B.S. in Communication Engineering. He served as an engineer for the NSA during the mid-1960s and was promoted to Commander during that time.
Mr. McNally retired from the Navy in 1972 and returned to Missouri. He worked 13 years for Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency in Jefferson City, training Civil Defense directors. During this time, he completed a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla. After years of living elsewhere, moving 25 times in 25 years, he was delighted to retire in Monroe City, where he lived the last 19 years.
Mr. McNally is survived by his wife, Geraldine Catherine Spalding, and 11 children. Three of them live in the Monroe City area, Mark (Rose) and Marie (Donald Hays), and Sarah. The other children are Terrence, of Nixa, Mo.; Kathleen (Michael Dagley) of Manassas, Va.; James (Noreen) of Stillwater, Okla.; Robert (Sunny) of New Market, Md.; John (Megan) of Chicago, Ill.; Matthew (Michele) of West Chester, Ohio; William (Cynthia) of Natick, Mass.; and Dorothy (Jeffrey Reynolds) of Henderson, Nev. He is also survived by two sisters, Kathleen Dent of Holts Summit, Mo., and Vivian “June” (Robert Utterback) of Pueblo, Colo. He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Richard Dent.
Despite the size of his family and the Navy’s far-flung assignments, Mr. McNally always kept his family together, he said, “not parceled out some place. Of all the things in my life, the most important to me is my close-knit family.” He and his wife encouraged faith, resilience, generosity, and good humor. The McNally family now includes 29 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009. D of I Rosary will be at 3:30 p.m., and a Parish Scripture service will be at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Rosary Church. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, at the Holy Rosary Church, Monroe City, Mo., with burial at the St. Stephens Cemetery, Indian Creek, Mo.
Pallbearers will be Mark McNally, James McNally, Bob McNally, John M. McNally, Matthew McNally and Bill McNally.
Memorials have been suggested to the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Monroe City, Mo.