NEW LONDON - After a courageous nine month battle with cancer, Dr. Thomas John Brennan Jr. passed away on Wednesday April 9 just before 5:30 a.m., surrounded by his loving family. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, friend, coach, and teacher. He is survived by Wendy, his loving wife of 44 years, and their daughters, Amy (husband Chris Holsinger and daughter Elizabeth), Catherine (husband Stephen Girard and son Finn Thomas), Jennifer, and Lindsay (husband John David Lyman and son John); mother Rose Brennan; his brothers Robert (wife Janice and children Keri, Casey, Kelly, and Christopher) and John (wife Mary and children Mark, Mollie, Patrick, Sean, and Maggie); and sister Rosemarie.
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He will be remembered for his joyous laughter, his great love for his family, and his passion for education. Tom was cherished by all, a giant in the lives of those who knew him. He was a dedicated educator and family man, and somehow managed to balance both perfectly. His smile was quick - as was his wit - and, through the final days of his life, he carried himself with tremendous grace and dignity. His three beloved grandchildren - Elizabeth, Finn Thomas, and John - knew their doting grandfather as "Pops."
Tom was born on Sept. 21, 1947 in Waltham, Mass. to Thomas John Brennan Sr. and Rose Brennan. Throughout Tom's childhood, the family traveled with his father, a lifelong combat medic who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam. After graduating from Ayer High School in 1965, Tom earned a degree in Business Education from Salem State University. Perhaps more important: that's where he met his future wife, Wendy (Raymond), whom he married on May 9, 1970. After graduating from Salem in 1969, Tom followed in his father's footsteps and enlisted in the Army, joining the US Army Corps of Engineers. Ranked as a Specialist E5, he was later transferred to the Adjutant General's Core to serve as a stateside cleric during the Vietnam War. In 1971, Tom received an honorable discharge to return to school, and he continued to serve as a reservist until 1975. Returning to Salem State, Tom earned his first Master's degree in School Counseling and began working in the Haverhill School System as an Adjustment Counselor. While living in Haverhill, Tom and Wendy welcomed their first three daughters, Amy Elizabeth, Catherine Rose, and Jennifer Marie. Tom later earned a second Master's degree from Salem State in School Administration. When he was hired as the Assistant Principal at Peterborough Middle School in 1979, the family moved to Hancock, where they resided for over 20 years. In 1982 Tom and Wendy welcomed their youngest daughter, Lindsay Ann.
After leaving Peterborough Middle School, Tom spent a year in the Jaffery-Rindge School District as an Assistant Principal. He then joined CFH Associates as an Office Manager and Trip Host for Senior Citizens. Tom returned to education as the Principal of Conant High School, where he was named New Hampshire State Principal of the year in 1993. He remained in education for his entire career, moving from Conant to the Manchester School District, where he became the Assistant Superintendent. Later, Tom served as the Superintendent for the Kearsarge Regional School District. Tom earned his Doctorate of Education in 2006 from Nova Southeastern University. Before retiring in July 2013, Tom served in Manchester as the Superintendent of Schools.
Tom was an educational visionary and often ahead of his time with his ideas about policy and curriculum. Another full page would be needed to list his many awards, commendations, and achievements - in addition to the committees and associations which he led and to which he belonged.
Constant and unflagging in his love for the family and friends he felt blessed to have, Tom's commitment to education similarly relentless.
The Brennan family wishes to express their unending gratitude to Dr. Matt Yurgelun and the teams at Dana Farber and Brigham & Women's for their incredible dedication and support.
Calling hours will be held at Chadwick's Funeral Home located at 235 Main Street in New London on Monday April 14 from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. The funeral mass will be held at Our Lady of Fatima at 724 Main Street in New London, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday April 15. A military burial ceremony will be held at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen on Wednesday April 16 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in memory of Thomas Brennan to support esophageal cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, Mass. 02284 or via www.dana-farber.org/gift or to New Hampshire Jobs for America's Graduates (NH-JAG) in memory of Thomas Brennan to support today's youth to attain personal success in school, work and life via http://www.nh-jag.org:8080/pdf/Individual%20Gift%20form.pdf or 175 Ammons Dr. Suite 212 Manchester, N.H. 03103.
Condolences may be sent to the Brennan family at 209 Squires Lane, New London, N.H. 03257. To sign an online guestbook, please visit www.chadwickfuneralservice.com.
Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on Apr. 15, 2014