Michael James Brennan of Jefferson, Ohio passed away at Aventura, Florida on September 9, 2021 at age 72, with his wife and children at his side. He is survived by his wife Marcia Lynn (Marcy) Brennan (Ryder) of Jefferson, Ohio, son Michael Dylan Brennan (Gina Ventre) of University Heights, Ohio, daughter Katerina Lyn Brennan (Richard Pence) of Hilliard, Ohio, step-daughter Courtney Myers Spies (Ben Spies) of Dublin, Ohio, together with grandchildren Gavin, Liam, Finn, and Levi, father-in-law James Ryder of Geneva, Ohio, and lifelong friends and former spouse and partner respectively, Katherine Anne Brennan (Pfister) of Hilliard, Ohio, and Sara Kay Steward (Brunell) of Jefferson, Ohio. He is preceded in death by his sister Linda Elizabeth Rogers (Reisinger), his stepson Jesse J. Myers, and his parents, Mary Virginia Brennan (Whitcomb) and Philip Michael Brennan, who raised their son to refuse limitations and exceed expectations.
MJB was born August 7, 1949 in a spare bedroom of his grandmother Mildred Holcomb Brennan’s house in Girard, Pennsylvania. MJB was born with meningocele, the rarest form of spina bifida. When he was three days old, he underwent surgery to close his spine. The doctors told his parents that if Mickey lived, he wouldn’t live long, that he would never walk or talk, or have children of his own.
MJB’s love for his children and grandchildren, along with his deep empathy, was informed by his own mother’s refusal to institutionalize him as recommended by doctors and by her sisters. His parents raised him and treated him at home, where they imposed certain restrictions on his childhood behavior, but never treated him as a victim.
In no particular order, MJB was an educator, a man of science, a humanist, a nurse, a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, a gambler and card player, and a storyteller.
MJB was a 1967 graduate of Rice Avenue Union High School in Girard, Pennsylvania, a 1971 graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Education, then earned his Master in Education at Edinboro in 1972. After a year at Byron Middle School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, “Mr. Brennan” taught enriched and honors/AP biology, and seminars on human sexuality and death & dying at Geneva High School in Geneva, Ohio, from 1973 through 2001.
Fulfilling a childhood dream to become a nurse, MJB earned an Associates in Science in Nursing from Cuyahoga Community College in 1994, and an RN diploma from Meridia-Huron School of Nursing. After working as a registered nurse in the Ashtabula County Nursing Home from 1994-2001, and a stint as Nursing Supervisor at Lake Erie Correctional Facility, MJB returned to the classroom at Kent State University of Ashtabula as a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, Anatomy, and Physiology, until the pandemic brought about his second retirement in 2020.
MJB was at home in front of a classroom. He brought untiring enthusiasm to the material, and inspired so many who went into sciences, nursing, and related professions. Not a top student himself, that experience informed his lifetime efforts to reach and engage students. He was an avid reader of nonfiction, and never stopped learning. He was plainspoken and had a wicked sense of humor. He was a firm believer in public schools, both K-12 and post-secondary education, and believed that a great education could be had anywhere. A proud union member, he served as president of Geneva Area Teachers Association, chaired the union’s political action committee, and participated on the contract negotiation team. MJB was Science Department Chairman at Geneva, and even oversaw detention, so nearly every student at school knew him in one capacity or another.
It was MJB’s wish to continue to educate after his passing. Inspired by his work at Kent State Ashtabula’s cadaver lab, in 2019 he registered with the Cleveland Clinic Body Donation Program. Due to his medical condition upon his passing, his body was unsuitable for donation.
To fulfill his wish by other means, the family is honored to announce the establishment of a scholarship in his name, administered by Kent State University of Ashtabula.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made payable to the Kent State University Foundation. Please place “Mike Brennan Scholarship” in the check’s memo line.
Please send checks to:
Dean Susan Stocker
Kent State University of Ashtabula
3300 Lake Road West
Ashtabula OH 44004
MJB will be interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Geneva, Ohio.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, September 26 from 12:00pm to 3:00pm at The Winery at Spring Hill, 6062 South Ridge Road West, Geneva, Ohio. All are welcome.
Online obituary and condolences may be viewed at www.behmfuneral.com