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Retired Judge Alfred L. Brennan Sr., 83

Services will be held Thursday morning for Judge Alfred L. Brennan Sr., who retired from Baltimore County Circuit Court in 1998 but continued until recently to serve in its settlement court.

Alfred L. Brennan Sr.

Brennan, who served as an associate judge on the circuit court for 10 years, died Saturday of esophageal cancer at Gilchrist Center in Towson. He was 83.

“He was a wonderful human being,” said Barbara Preis, a judicial assistant at the Baltimore County settlement court. “He was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. I don’t think anyone can say enough about him as a person. … He was very positive through his whole battle through cancer.”

Members of court and attorneys remembered Brennan as a man who was serious about his work on the bench and a constant jokester when he put down the gavel.

“He was a fun guy,” said former Judge John F. Fader II. “He always had that Irish way of laughter and excitement. He just got a tickle out of everything — telling jokes and laughing. At the same time, in court, he was a very, very serious and professional individual. When he was out with us and his friends, he just was the life of the party.”

Brennan was born in Baltimore on Dec. 10, 1928. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve before attending Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He then studied at what is now Loyola University Maryland for two years.

After graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1954, Brennan was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1955.

Brennan served as a substitute magistrate in Baltimore County from 1965 to 1966 and then as a judge in the county’s People’s Court in 1967.

Brennan co-founded Brennan & Brennan P.A., leaving only when he was appointed to the Maryland District Court in 1984.

He was elevated to the Baltimore County Circuit Court in 1988 and, even after his retirement a decade later, sat as a settlement judge once a week.

Former Baltimore County Circuit Court Associate Judge J. Norris Byrnes, who had known Brennan since 1969, remembered him as always upbeat.

“He was a gentleman,” Byrnes said. “He had great common sense. He had a great sense of humor. He was the most positive man I have ever met. The glass was always 3/4 full.”

Brennan was also an avid fisherman and loved to “play poker with the boys,” Byrnes said.

“Though, I am sure it was just for chips,” Byrnes said.

Brennan played in a poker group that met monthly for 25 years, said Harris “Bud” James George, a Towson lawyer. The group, made up mostly of lawyers and judges, grew out of an annual fishing and poker weekend trip. They would play poker all night Friday and fish all day Saturday, George said, but soon Brennan, George and others wanted to meet more frequently to play.

George said Brennan had a way of reaching out and relating to people both in and out of the courtroom.

“I understand that when he was in line for chemo, he was always the jokester trying to raise everyone’s spirits,” George said. “He just had a big heart and was a humble man, too, in the sense that he identified with people very much.”

Around the court, Brennan’s ability to connect with people contributed to his work as a judge, Fader said.

“All his experience with people, with issues, with all types of law just enabled him to take a file, get to the heart of a problem and be able to give his opinion,” Fader said.

Brennan was a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Baltimore County Bar Association, serving as the county bar president from 1982 to 1983. He also chaired a Boy Scout troop from 1966 to 1976 and was a member of the Dissenters Law Club.

The funeral will be held 11 a.m. Thursday at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at 200 Ware Ave., Towson.

Brennan is survived by his wife, Marjorie Brennan; six children, Alfred Brennan Jr., Robert Brennan, Donald Brennan, Terry Brennan, Michael Brennan and Carolyn Wescott; and 16 grandchildren.

 

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