1921 - 2013
The Guest Book is expired.
Patricia Noel Brennan, a long-time Vallejo resident, passed away Tuesday, Feb.19. She spent 91 years living life to the fullest and infecting those around her with unbridled optimism, laughter and love.
Mrs. Brennan moved with her husband, Martin, and their family to Vallejo from Travis A.F.B. in 1968 when he retired from the United States Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel. The two met during World War II when Mr. Brennan attended Grinnell College in Iowa where he earned his commission as a 90-day wonder.
Mrs. Brennan was born in Cedar Rapids, IA, to Ernest and Pearl Funkey. She lived there until she married Mr. Brennan in 1944. Their eldest son, David, was born in 1945 at Romulus Army Air Field during the war. After the war Mr. Brennan was discharged, and the family returned to Philadelphia, PA., his hometown. There, their second son, Terence, was born.
Mr. Brennan was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict and chose to make the Air Force a career. When Mr. Brennan was assigned long-term temporary duty to far-flung places like Pakistan, Vietnam or Europe, Mrs. Brennan did as other military wives did. She wore all the household hats and kept the family running. For only his extended tour in the Philippines, Mrs. Brennan and her sons returned to Cedar Rapids, IA, to live near her family.
After Mr. Brennan returned from the Philippines, he was assigned to Scott A.F.B., and their third son, Greg, and only daughter, Kathryn, were born. When the children entered school, Mrs. Brennan returned to the workforce.
In 1961, the Air Force assigned Mr. Brennan to duty at Tachikawa A.F.B. in Japan. Mrs. Brennan and the family followed in 1962, sailing from San Francisco on the SS President Roosevelt. As a woman whose simple Midwest upbringing might have otherwise precluded an international life, the family's embarkation was as much a metaphorical departure for her as it was a literal one.
Mrs. Brennan experienced Japan and all it offered with vigor. The family lived in Grant Heights, an American military housing complex on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, Mrs. Brennan learned conversational Japanese and about her host culture. She took advantage of the "Shinkansen," the bullet train installed in time for the 1964 Olympic games, that took her well beyond Tokyo on weekends to Kyoto where she scoured the countryside for Japanese antiquities that she bought by the suitcase. She traveled across Japan with her husband and family in tow. Shopping on the Ginza, participating in tea ceremonies, attending Shinto weddings of new-found friends, visiting the United States Ambassador to Japan with her children and their friends at Christmas, and more were wrapped around her duties serving with honor as a secretary to senior Army Intelligence staff during the Vietnam conflict.
The Brennans returned to Travis A.F.B. in 1966 and moved to Vallejo in 1968 when Mr. Brennan retired from active duty. Mrs. Brennan continued working, first for James L. Browning, the United States Attorney for Northern California, and then for the Vallejo City Attorney.
In 1975, she retired from active work, but her pace did not slow. She was an active Catholic as a member of St. Basil the Great in Vallejo, as a supporter of her husband's participation in the Deaconate Program for the Diocese of Sacramento and in retreat with her friends and the monastics at Mt. Tabor Monastery in Redwood Valley.
In 2000, Mrs. Brennan moved to Fremont to live near her daughter, and Mr. Brennan who was a resident of the VA Medical Center in Menlo Park. In 2004, after a fall, Mrs. Brennan moved into a care facility where she lived until she passed away.
Mrs. Brennan, who was preceded in death by her husband, is survived by her children, David Brennan of Auburn, NY, Terence Brennan of Santa Rosa, Gregory and Donna Brennan of Sonoma, Kathryn and Art Geis of Fremont, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
A Mass celebrating her life will be held on Friday, March 1, at 10 a.m., at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 1791 Marshall Road, Vacaville. At 11:30 a.m., following the Mass, Mr. and Mrs. Brennan will be interred with military honors at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, 5810 Midway Road, Dixon, CA.
Published in TimesHeraldOnline on Feb. 26, 2013