William Brennan Obituary, Death – After living a long and fruitful life, William Francis Brennan, CDR, USN (Ret), died away quietly in the loving arms of his family. Bill is the oldest of William and Mabel Brennan’s four boys and is frequently referred to as Captain “B.” He was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on January 29, 1923. “It was a cold, very much a New England winter night… that I entered, passing from my very warm… home into the ‘breathing freezing world’ of parents, family, and all manner of humans,” the author writes in his autobiography, which was written in 2010 and given as Christmas presents to his four children. He would prove to the world over the course of the following 99 years that he was a true humanist, comprehending human frailties and inspiring others with courage, compassion, and love.

Whitman, Massachusetts, served as Bill Brennan’s upbringing. After graduating from high school, his parents took him to the Kents Hill School in the “wilds of Maine” to improve his grades in order to get into Boston College. His intentions were derailed by World War II, which put him on a path toward settling in the State of Maine. Bill and four of his classmates from Kents Hill enrolled in the newly founded Maine Maritime Academy as midshipmen.

After earning his degree in 1943, Bill joined the U.S. Navy as an ensign. He spent the war traveling in both Pacific and Atlantic waters after accepting his first Navy duty, which also served as his first command as the commander of a 110-foot sub chaser. After the war, he relocated to Pensacola, Florida, where he underwent flying training and started the next phase of his career as a Naval Aviator. The most crucial of all his Navy missions was a posting as a young aviator to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station. There he met Ethel Humphreys, a young Navy nurse who would become his wife on August 12, 1950, her birthday. They were sent to bases all around the country and on Bermuda for the ensuing fifteen years.

As the first Commandant of Midshipmen at the Academy, Bill returned to his alma mater in 1966 after retiring from the Navy. He contributed to the growth of the institution for 20 years, as well as its buildings, programs, and—most significantly—the regiment of young people entrusted to his care. In a statement made many years later, one of those midshipmen said, “I didn’t understand at the time I was a student that what he was trying to develop in me was a sense of personal responsibility, to enable me to become a responsible ship’s officer, and ultimately a responsible husband and father. Today, I look warmly back on my time at the Academy with Captain Brennan because he helped me become a better man.

After leaving the Academy in 1982, Bill and Ethel relocated to Falmouth, where he started his third profession as a volunteer. He dedicated his time for more than 20 years to a number of Southern Maine organizations, including the OpSail Maine 2000 event, the Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Maine Medical Center, and his church.

In 2020, Bill’s wife Ethel passed away. He is survived by his four children, Bill and Heather Brennan of Castine, Maryann Russell of Scarborough, Katy and husband Bob Hoffmann of Yarmouth, and Michael Brennan and wife Sarah Speare of Falmouth. He also leaves behind 19 great-grandchildren in addition to 15 grandchildren and their spouses.

The employees at Ocean View Legacy, Northern Light Hospice, and Comfort Keepers deserve the family’s deep gratitude for their kindness and support. On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Falmouth, followed by a reception. Family members and friends are invited to attend. Following the reception, a private interment with military honors will take place. The Captain William F. Brennan Scholarship at the Maine Maritime Academy, 1 Pleasant Street, Castine, Maine 04420, is where the family requests donations be directed in Bill’s honor. Visit www.jonesrichandbarnes.com to submit a tribute in Bill’s honor. Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodford, Portland, is handling the arrangements.