Sackets Harbor life-long resident Robert Edward Xavier Brennan passed away on July 24 at age 92 while at the Hospice of Jefferson County Residence.
He was surrounded by his wife of 70 years Jeannie, daughter Connie and son-in-law Larry, caregiver and neighbor Mary Leta Whalen, and Parish Priest Fr. Michael Gaffney.
Robert was born May 11, 1921 in his parents' home on Broad Street. On that property he and his bride Jeannie Kafka Brennan together built the house where they have resided since their marriage.
Son of Patrick and Mary Noonan Brennan, one of four children, Robert graduated from Sackets Harbor High School in 1940, and worked at Bell and Curtis Aircraft manufacturing facilities in the Niagara Frontier as World War II broke out. In 1942 he volunteered to serve in the US Air Transport Command until 1945 when he was Honorable Discharged.
He married Sackets Harbor resident Jeannie Kafka December 21, 1943 in Albany NY at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church.
Robert was employed with Bell Telephone Company for 38 years, retiring in 1983 and becoming a member of the “Telephone Pioneers” retirees group. He was also a life-long member of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Sackets Harbor, and the Sackets Harbor American Legion Post 1757.
In 1994 the Sackets Harbor Alumni bestowed their distinguished alumni award on Robert and Jeannie. In 2001 the Village of Sackets Harbor named them Citizens of the Year.
Local history was his passion, including Sackets Harbor and the former Army Post Madison Barracks where his father had worked for 35 years. In the 1970s, Robert helped create “Sackets Harbor All American Days” which has evolved into CAN-AM Days.
In his retirement, Robert reviewed microfilmed newspapers at Flower Memorial Library and at the Watertown Daily Times to amass an extensive collection of news articles about Sackets Harbor, and graciously shared that research resource with anyone.
In 1995, the Fort Drum based 7th Field Artillery Battalion awarded Robert the prestigious St. Barbara’s Medal. Through Robert’s persistence, a building at Ft. Drum was named in honor of WWII General Mark Clark, a long time friend of Robert.
Robert and Jeannie published two books through Arcadia Publishers “Images of America Series,” titled “Sackets Harbor” and “Fort Drum,” which have been reprinted several times with thousands of copies sold to benefit the Sackets Harbor Area Foundation and Pickering-Beach Museum. For many years, Robert and his wife have been appointed the Village of Sackets Harbor and Town of Hounsfield Historians.
In their early years of marriage they took their daughter on summer canoe trips and climbed mountains in the Adirondacks. In their retirement, Bob and Jeannie traveled to numerous destinations in the world, which brought them great joy. They were downhill and cross-country skiers, and particularly enjoyed driving their 1931 Model A Ford around their beloved village.
Robert was predeceased by his brothers James and Donald; sister Kathleen; brothers-in-law Kent Alverson and William Kafka, and sisters-in-law Muriel Brennan and Mary Kafka.
Robert is survived by Jeannie, his wife of 70 years; daughter Constance Brennan Barone and her husband Lawrence of Sackets Harbor; sister-in-law Enola Griffin Brennan in Ohio; and nieces and nephews and their families from Massachusetts to California.
The calling hours and vigil will be at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Sackets Harbor on Friday, July 26 from 4 pm to 7 pm, with a funeral Mass at St. Andrew Church the following day at 10 am with Rev. Douglas Comstock officiating. Following the Mass, internment will be at Lakeside Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to a favorite charity.
Condolence messages may be made online at www.carpenterstoodley.com.
Thursday, May 5, 2016, Watertown, NY
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