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David L. Brennan

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David L. Brennan Obituary
David L Brennan

The world changed immeasurably on Sunday, October 14, 2018, when David L. Brennan, 87, died at his Akron home after a year-long illness.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann; his children, Beth of Missoula, Montana, Jay (Julie) of Greensboro, North Carolina, Kathleen (Claude Hendon) of Tallahassee, Florida, and Nancy of Akron. He is also survived by his ten grandchildren, Brigit and Dylan Rossbach, Rosalie, David, Michael and Daniel Hendon, Ann and Maggie Brennan, and Claire and Hannah Brennan, and by his loyal companion and friend, John Phillips. David was preceded in death by his parents, Josephine and Daniel; his four brothers, Joseph, Daniel, Thomas and John; his sister, Bea Fulkman, and his infant son, Billy.

David was larger than life -- in what he did, how he lived, what he accomplished -- and how he looked. The youngest of six children, David arrived on July 5, 1931, weighing 10 lbs. 15 ounces. He grew to 6'6" tall, a monumental size for his generation. When Dave Brennan entered the room, everyone noticed.

When David was 16 years old, a doctor told him he would be dead by the time he was 55. Given his own father's early death from a heart attack, it wasn't hard to believe. The doctor correctly predicted that David would struggle with weight and its attendant problems of high blood pressure and diabetes. What he didn't know was how hard David would work to counteract those genetic tendencies.

In his early 40s, David spent three months at Duke University on the Kempner Rice Diet. For years after, Ann would spend hours cooking and freezing salt-free tomato sauce to be poured over the plain white rice that formed the staple of his diet. For a man who loved food, it was a monumental act of self-discipline, fueled by his will to live and provide for his family.

David's longevity was unquestionably the biggest surprise of his life. He celebrated every birthday after age 55 not only as an anniversary of his "sell-by date," but as evidence that God still had a plan for him -- and he'd best get on with it.

At his core, he was an Irishman -- hard-working and disciplined, yet sentimental and romantic. He proposed to Ann on their fourth date (although it took her nine months to say yes). He loved to remind friends how much he treasured them. His greatest pleasure was being surrounded by family. He loved hosting family reunions, and never tired of having children and grandchildren in the house.

David was a visionary who saw a future the rest of us could only periodically glimpse. Whether it was persuading New York corporations to move their back office operations to Akron in the 1980s, envisioning computers as a tool for adult education in the late 1990s, or dreaming of a new St. Vincent-St. Mary high school campus in the 21st century, David never stopped imagining a future different from - and always better than - the present. But he was not just a dreamer. He pursued his dreams with ambition, ferocity, logic, and passion.

Often, David's vision led him to think the world should change faster than it usually did. As Ann describes it, things in his side mirror tended to look closer than they actually were. We're pretty sure that David has already approached St. Peter with some excellent plans for reorganizing heaven.

David's deepest passion was school choice. Although it led him to become involved in politics, school choice at its core was not about politics for him. He had a heartfelt desire to educate those who fall through the cracks, and believed that school choice was the best answer.

Decades before iPads, cellphones, and the internet, David saw that a computer's immediate, impersonal feedback could promote learning without shame. That vision led to his providing onsite learning labs for employees, and eventually to brick-and-mortar and virtual schools in Ohio and elsewhere: Hope Academies, Ohio Electronic & Distance Learning Academy, and Life Skills High Schools.

His commitment to education was consistent with his faith and his generosity. Giving to others was central to David's identity. He and Ann are well-known philanthropists in Akron, having given substantially to Summa Health and St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in recent years. But David shared his bounty with innumerable people throughout his lifetime. Whether funding the salary for the first staff person at a suicide hotline, paying off the mortgage for a house for runaway children, helping a family friend pay for college, or donating land for tennis courts, David's answer to, "Could you please help?" was almost always, "Absolutely."

David was loyal, hard-working, sentimental, creative, impatient, and generous. We were incredibly lucky to know him, and be loved by him. We'll miss him forever. May he rest in peace.

The family will hold calling hours Friday, October 26 at Our Lady of the Elms High School, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The family requests you wear scarlet and gray. Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 27 at St. Sebastian's Church, followed by private interment and a reception at Portage Country Club. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to Ohio State University, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, OPEN M, Summa Health System Foundation, or the .
Published in Akron Beacon Journal from Oct. 17 to Oct. 26, 2018
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