Mary Ellen Brennan, who lived with a soft heart and a giving spirit that overflowed to family, friends and sometimes those she barely knew, passed away Wednesday, June 21 with her loving family at her side.
Mary Ellen, 86, was born Feb. 28, 1931 in the Town of Seymour in Lafayette County. She died at the Evansville Manor, where she lived in recent years.
She was known for her unique blend of tenderness and toughness, both of which she carried with her until the end. She struggled with health concerns for a number of years but repeatedly surprised her family by bouncing back and carrying forward.
Mary Ellen was a 1949 graduate of Darlington High School. She married Robert Brennan on June 26, 1954 at Our Lady of Hope, a small Catholic church near Darlington in the Town of Seymour. Robert died on Oct. 9, 1999.
Love of family was the fuel that drove Mary Ellen, having raised six children of her own, then doting in later years on 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The loss of grandson Joshua C. Brennan, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2007, was one of the great sorrows of her life.
Mary Ellen is survived by children Terry (Laurie) Brennan, Mequon; Tom (Robin) Brennan, Columbus; Margaret (Larry) Lewallen, Goshen, Ind.; John Brennan, Milwaukee; Mike (Michelle) Brennan, McFarland; and Joe (Laurie) Brennan, Slinger.
She is also survived by grandchildren Rob, Megan, Joseph (Emily) Brennan, Menomonee Falls; Amanda Brennan, Louisville, Ky.; Michael Brennan, Mequon; Jessica (Matt) Leibrock, Farmington, Minn.; James Brennan, Sun Prairie; Matt (Kristi) Lewallen, Carmel, Indiana; Ryan Lewallen and Bridget (Eric) Gongwer, Goshen, Ind.; Christina and Brittany Brennan, McFarland; Bryce and Joscelyn Brennan, Slinger; and great-grandchildren Connor Lewallen, Brinley Leibrock, El Lewallen, and Eli Brennan.
She is also survived by her sister, Margaret McClory; by sisters-in-law Margaret Karls, Carol Deans, Delores Brennan, Pat McComish and Mary Esch; and by brothers-in-law Joe Esch and Gayle Monson.
In addition to her husband Robert and grandson Joshua, she was preceded in death by brothers Thomas McComish and John McComish, and by sisters Kate Monson and Libby Monson.
She was also preceded in death by brothers-in-law: Francis Brennan, his wife Elizabeth and his second wife Helen, Henry Brennan and his wife Mary, Ray Brennan, David Monson, Robert McClory, Gene Deans, Bud Karls; by sisters-in-law: Mary Kay McComish, Alice Terrill and her husband Lowell, Betty Wunnicke and her husband Tucker, and by Robert’s brother John, who died as a young boy.
Mary Ellen worked as an X-ray technician at the hospital in Dodgeville from 1952-54. She worked in food service at the Evansville Manor for 20 years, and also worked at Chapin’s grocery store in Evansville and in the lunchroom at the Evansville grade school.
Caring for others was a big part of her life, and offering baked goods was her favorite way to connect and to serve. She especially loved to bake and cook around the holidays. In that time of year she would sometimes take her baked treats and leave them anonymously on the porch of Evansville residents who were in need.
Mary Ellen was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Evansville for more than 40 years, serving meals and helping with funerals at the church. She taught religious education for St. Paul’s for 10 years, always from her own home so she could be closer to the children.
Many knew her as a loving, big-hearted Christian woman who lived every day in the ways in which God would want her to, continually looking out for others, even up to the day of her death.
Mary Ellen was known for regaling her grandkids with stories and laughter, sharing with them many of her “favorite sayings,” some printable and some not. She also enjoyed a good martini from time to time, but more than that, the fellowship that always came with them.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 26, 2017 at St. Paul Catholic Church Evansville where Reverend’s Kevin Dooley and Michael Burke officiated. A visitation was held from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Ward-Hurtley Funeral Home, Evansville and from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service on Monday at church. Burial will be held later in Our Lady of Hope cemetery in the Town of Seymour.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the Sgt. Joshua Brennan Memorial Scholarship Fund, via the McFarland Education Association, P.O. Box 206, McFarland, WI 53558.
Condolences may be expressed at Wardhurtley.com.