As many of you already know and the rest of you found out in these pages, my grandfather Roger Brennan passed away last Thursday. I extend my family’s heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate Roger’s life. That especially includes Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 and surrounding departments, St. Michael’s Church, CL&P, Naugatuck Valley Memorial/Fitzgerald-Zembruski Funeral Home and every single person who came out or sent condolences to us. We appreciate it so, so much. The following is an abridged version of the eulogy I gave Monday:
I’m Roger’s oldest grandson. If I’m lucky enough to live a life as full as my grandpa’s, I’ve got 55 years left on this earth. I don’t know much right now about what will happen in those years, but I do know one thing: There will never be a distinction I hold higher than being able to say that I am Roger Brennan’s grandson.
I have never met a person who had more pride than my grandpa. Above all, he stood extremely proud of three things: his family, his hometown and his Boston Red Sox. When I was a kid, I could never figure out why he wore his Red Sox hat and jacket on days after losses, when I didn’t even want to see mine. But that didn’t matter to him; there he was at Gabe’s with his cap and jacket the next morning — of course, with a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to take off the edge. Now, as I’m reflecting upon his life, it’s pretty easy to see that the level of pride he exuded for his baseball team was just the tip of the iceberg.
The Brennans and Beacon Falls share a special connection that few families know. I was only 12 years old when my great-grandmother Blanche Brennan passed away in 2003. I opened the newspaper to find her obituary and was struck by the headline next to her name: “Mrs. Beacon Falls.” The standing-room crowd at her funeral drove home the point even further. That’s when I really started to develop my pride for this place, but it most definitely wasn’t the end.
I went to 9:15 mass Sunday morning wearing my grandpa’s unofficial uniform — a flannel shirt and a Red Sox jacket — and chatted with a few well-wishers. The last person I spoke with was a delightful woman who commended me on the obituary I wrote. Before she walked away, she told me the best thing anyone said all week: “Roger was Mr. Beacon Falls.”
I think she was right. This town would not be what it is today without him. Roger lived every one of his 77 years in Beacon Falls, and 57 of them were spent with Beacon Hose. He gave himself to this town in every way — from cleaning up the mess left by the Flood of ’55 to taking, dispatching and responding to fire calls as chief — and in 1986, he and my Grammy Blanche were two of 13 residents to receive Hometown Heroes awards. I’m thrilled to be one of the men and women who get to carry on his legacy in Beacon Falls. People who aren’t from here don’t get what kind of pride we have in this town. I’m glad my grandpa helped me get it.
But for as much love as he had for Beacon Falls, he always put his family above everything else in his life. Roger never let a single day pass by without making the most of it for his family’s sake. We are forever blessed to have so many years of memories with one of the greatest men this world has ever known, and he loved every minute he spent with us. He makes me immensely proud of my last name, and every time I see it in the newspaper I can think of him and smile.
His love didn’t stop with those who share his blood, either. Many great friends from this town (and beyond) became Brennans by association. You were probably subjected to jokes and wise cracks, but you also probably received a few firm handshakes along with the two words that marked his best compliments: “Good going.”
The common thread here is pride. It’s a fickle thing, pride is. Too much of it and nobody likes you. Not enough of it and nobody cares about you. So it was with Roger Brennan: I will admit he was not liked by all. No. My grandfather was loved by all. And we can all be proud to have spent our lives with him.
The Greyhounds’ losing streak reached four games this week with losses to Holy Cross (41-28) last Thursday and Crosby (92-63) on Tuesday. CJ Wall led Naugy against the Crusaders with nine points, while Dayvon Russell’s 16 paced the ‘Hounds on Tuesday. Naugatuck (5-7) will host Seymour on Friday before visiting Kennedy on Tuesday.
Naugatuck suffered a 95-87 loss to Sacred Heart last Friday. Mitchell Santos (100-yard backstroke) and the 400 freestyle relay team (Marcus Cruz, Santos, John Dean, Vincent Thoren) earned event wins for the Greyhounds. Naugy visited Wilby on Tuesday but the results were not reported as of this post. Naugy will visit Seymour next Tuesday.
Word from the Woods
Woodland earned a key Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division victory last Friday in a 49-41 win over previous division leader St. Paul. Tanner Kingsley scored a game-high 28 points and added seven rebounds, six steals and six 3-pointers. Shane Classey pitched in down the stretch to help the Hawks keep the lead by scoring six points in 2 minutes. Woodland fell to Derby last Thursday and Kennedy on Tuesday, but the Hawks (4-9, 4-1 Brass) are tied for the division lead. They will host Torrington on Friday before welcoming Wolcott for a crucial divisional game Tuesday.
The Woodland girls have lost three tough games in a row to fall to 3-11. Losses to Derby (47-45 in overtime) last Thursday, St. Paul (58-27) last Friday and Kennedy (54-36) on Tuesday have put Woodland in must-win mode the rest of the way. Carla Piccolo (19 against Derby), Cameron Caswell (11 against St. Paul) and Andrea Piccolo (18 against Kennedy) were leading scorers last week. Woodland will visit Torrington on Friday before traveling to Wolcott on Tuesday.
The Hawks dropped a pair of meets last week to Torrington (89-75 last Friday) and Watertown (96-68 on Tuesday) to fall to 2-4 on the year. Woodland’s event winners against the Raiders included Aidan Music (200-yard IM, 100 breaststroke), Andy O’Dell (50 freestyle) and the 400 free relay team (JD Dyckman, Julie Hinckley, Brian Smith, Alan Katrenya). The Hawks’ winners against Watertown included O’Dell (200 free), Music (50 free), Lauren Tompkins (100 backstroke), Donovan White (100 breast) and the 400 free relay team (O’Dell, Katrenya, Jimmy Jensen, Music). Woodland will host Holy Cross on Friday and Northwestern on Wednesday.