SAVANNAH - Coach Thomas (Tommy) Joseph Brennan succumbed to a long-fought battle with Chron's disease with much courage and tenacity. Predeceased by parents James (Jimmy) and LeAgrace (Lollie) Blackburn Brennan, Tommy grew up in Tatnall Homes (Savannah Gardens) where he was a child prodigy and nicknamed "Hockenberry" after a famous professional athlete turned coach.
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He attended Cathedral Day School, was a 1962 graduate of Benedictine Military School (BC), and earned a BS in industrial engineering from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in 1967.
A multi-year letterman in baseball, basketball and football, Tommy earned all-city and all-state honors while at BC, was a starter on the '61 state championship baseball team, and won Back of the Year awards for both the Savannah Quarterback Club and Savannah News Press in 1962. Other honors include the Sears Trophy for the city's best amateur athlete and the prestigious Ashley Dearing award for the most versatile athlete.
Tommy received a football scholarship from the University of Southern Mississippi where he was a three-year starter and still maintains records for returning two punts for touchdowns in a single game and making three interceptions against Auburn's Pat Sullivan in a 3-0 upset as the nation's then No. 1-rated defense. One of his fondest achievements was receiving accolades from Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for his play against Alabama, particularly for his dominant coverage of legendary receiver Ray Perkins.
After his first coaching stint of 10 years at Windsor Forest High School, Tommy fulfilled a dream of coaching his alma matter "Ole BC." Later head coaching jobs included Groves High School, where he was named coach of the year, as well as inaugural Liberty County High School, Richmond Hill and South Effingham high schools. His coaching and teaching career spanned 29 years, and he was inducted into the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
He loved to coach, mentor and inspire others with his infectious personality, and has left a memorable mark on many. No matter what he did on or off the field as a player or coach, "Coach" always gave his best and expected the same in return.
Coach Brennan also worked as a linehandling supervisor for M.J. Hogan and Co. for many years, where he never felt as though it was a job. An avid golfer with a passion for the game, he was a devout member of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and a communicant at St. Boniface Catholic Church, a member of the Knights of Columbus No. 631, and the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee. With all of the awards, honors and trophies, Coach was very humble about his accomplishments and was admired as a captain, leader and gentleman.
An inspiration to many, Coach Brennan is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Lynn Brennan; sons Shel (Cindy) Brennan, Terry (Beth Durden Smith) Brennan, Ben (Sandy) Morgan, Dan (Nicole) Morgan; grandchildren Katherine, Caroline and Colby Brennan, Bayley and Brandan Morgan, and Zach Pittman; siblings James (Gina) Brennan, Barry (Lynn) Brennan, Patricia Brennan, and Linda Burnett, brother-in-law Eddie Mikell his wife Bonnie and their sons Brett and Scott and their families.
Pallbearers included Copie Burnett, Travis Moll, Talmadge Wall, Simms Dowdy, Ben Morgan and Jerry Hogan Jr. Honorary pallbearers included Charlie Ray Sr., Jerry Hogan Sr., Henry Rappe, Gene Robider, George Fitch, Byron Dixon, Luke Simms, Tommy Brunson, Henry Schroeder, Mike Rouch, Pat Rossiter and Albert Lodge.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Benedictine Military School, 6502 Seawright Dr., Savannah, GA 31406 (www.bcsav.net) or Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, 386 Park Ave, 17th Floor, NY, NY 10016 (www.ccfa.org).
The rosary service was held Tuesday, March 26, at 5 p.m. at Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel, followed by a visitation until 7 p.m.
The mass of Christian burial was celebrated Wednesday, March 27, at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Interment followed at Catholic Cemetery.
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Published in Effingham Herald from Apr. 12 to May 12, 2013