J. Martin "Marty" Brennan Jr., known for his tenacity and passion as a member of the Rochester Hills City Council, died Friday of complications from cancer treatment, family friends confirmed. He was 58.
"The world has lost a great person," said Linda Davis-Kirksey, a political consultant and grant-writer who considered Brennan one of her closest friends.
She last saw Brennan on Thursday night at Beaumont Hospital in Troy, where she sat by his side and said goodbye.
Funeral services are planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at SS. Peter & Paul Church in Detroit.
He is survived by his wife, Leta, and their children, Caitlyn and Trip, both graduates of Rochester High School.
Passion and politics
Brennan was elected to City Council in 2007; he served District 2, which is the northeast corner of the city.
He was diagnosed with cancer shortly before the filing deadline in the spring and decided not to seek re-election.
Brennan spoke during City Council meetings with a positive outlook about his diagnosis, first with prostate cancer and then, later, with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
At one of the last meetings he attended in September, Brennan showed off his balding head (the result of chemotherapy) from beneath a baseball cap; to support him, his colleagues on City Council and members of city staff wore hats to that meeting, too.
"When I think about Marty, I think about the passion and the things he engaged himself in," said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett. "He would jump in with everything he had to debate fiercely any issue he felt passionate about."
Barnett and City Council President Greg Hooper also visited Brennan in the hospital on Thursday night.
"I don't know if he knew we were there; he didn't respond, but we prayed with him and told him we loved him like a brother," Barnett said.
"We're going to miss him."
Barnett expressed his condolences for Brennan's family on behalf of the entire city staff.
Brennan's son, Trip, was a member of Rochester Hills Government Youth Council for the 2010-11 school year; Trip Brennan spoke often of his respect for his dad on City Council and in local political circles.
'He was a spitfire'
Politics is how Brennan and Davis-Kirksey met 18 years ago. Brennan was an active member of the Democratic Party.
"Being a Rochester resident, that's a rarity," Davis-Kirksey said.
She called him a tenacious man who loved politics and a good debate.
"He was a spitfire," she said. "He was truly a man who cared about his community. He worked for social justice."
Brennan was once a nominee for the Michigan Supreme Court. He was a trial lawyer; according to his bio on the American Settlement Centers website, his clients have included the state of Michigan, where he was special assistant to the attorney general, and the city of Fraser.
Davis-Kirksey said Brennan's legacy would be one of honesty and conviction.
"He was always true to himself and what his beliefs were," she said. "If every politician could learn a lesson from Marty Brennan, it would be to remind themselves of that.
"We would find a greater breed of politicians if they would follow his lead."