Brendan M. Connors

Brendan M. Connors

June 15th, 1941 January 8th, 2020

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Obituary for Brendan M. Connors

About 50 years ago, a young union carpenter was working on the construction of the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Government Center when the plywood he was standing on slipped out from under him.
He was on the 22nd story and absolutely, positively, should have died. But instead, Brendan Connors fell a single story and landed on a cable attached to an elevator shaft on the exterior of the building. Somehow, about 250 feet above the ground, Brendan kept his balance, spun on the wire, and very slowly and very carefully made his way to safety.
Every day after that was a bonus, he said, and he made the best of every single one of them until January 8, 2020, when he passed away in the arms of his daughter and surrounded by loved ones. Technically, Brendan died after a decades-long bout with several ailments, including more than one cancer. But really, he died of a broken heart.
Born on June 15, 1941 in Waltham, Mass., Brendan Connors was the only child of Grace L. Kennedy, a nurse, and Joseph M. Connors, a carpenter. He graduated from Saint Mary’s high school in 1959 and, after several on-the-job injuries whose pain would torment him for the rest of his life, he left carpentry and graduated with a degree in English from Boston University in 1968. He earned his JD from Suffolk University Law School in 1971 and his LLM in labor law from New York University shortly thereafter.
Brendan felt deep compassion for the vulnerable and the lonesome that derived from his own personal experiences. As a little boy, he would visit his father Joseph at the Bridgewater State Prison, notorious for ill treatment of residents. Joseph had been unjustly convicted and was later pardoned by the governor of Massachusetts —just in time to attend his son’s First Holy Communion. For the rest of his life, Joseph was tortured by the memories of what he experienced at the state “hospital” and loudly relived that suffering in vocal, frequent nightmares. His only child, Brendan, bore witness.
Brendan often speculated that he was saved from plummeting to death because God had something good in store for him. That good, everyone knew, was his wife Patricia Gormley of Dorchester. The two married on September 6, 1968 and enjoyed 51 years of love and lively companionship. They welcomed two children: Joseph Michael Gormley Connors and Molly Ann Kennedy Connors. Brendan and Patricia raised their children in an old farmhouse in Waltham that was often filled with laughter, Irish music, show tunes, and the barking of three rescue Cairn terriers. The couple rarely missed a concert, game, or play that featured their children and Brendan, moved by the struggles of family friends caring for their son, became a Special Olympics swim coach and lifelong advocate for the developmentally disabled.
Brendan effused a childlike wonder at the natural world. Along with Pat, he would use binoculars to look through the kitchen window at an owl family nesting in nearby trees and bunnies bouncing around the lawn. Later, he would occasionally call his children from his room at the nursing home or hospital to encourage them to tune into the same public television program he was watching, almost always about animals.
Although partially deaf from his work in construction, Brendan was a careful and thoughtful listener who often knew just the right thing to say to encourage his children and friends through hard times. “There’s no easy road to the right place,” he’d observed.
With the help of an experimental treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Brendan survived a rare blood cancer in 2004. He continued to suffer a variety of other serious ailments that limited his mobility but, seemingly through sheer will, Brendan remained a loyal friend who could manage a ribald joke shortly after an excruciating bone marrow biopsy.
The hardship he could not bear, however, was the sudden loss of his wife Patricia on September 29, 2019. After her funeral, Brendan spent more time in the hospital than out of it. But he loved life and his friends and his children and simply refused to give up. When he gave instructions regarding his end-of-life care, he said he wanted to be alive, even if in pain or on a feeding tube, as long as he could be a true and present friend to his children.
Brendan is survived by his son, Joseph Connors of Los Angeles, CA and his daughter Molly Connors of Northampton, MA as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Patricia Connors of Waltham, MA.
Calling Hours will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 12 at Keefe Funeral Home, 5 Chestnut Street, ARLINGTON, MA. A Funeral Mass will take place on Monday, January 13 at 11:30 a.m. at Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, MA. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Special Olympics of Massachusetts or the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Sunday, January 12th, 2020 | 2:00pm - 5:00pm
    Keefe Funeral Home - Arlington
    5 Chestnut St.
    Arlington, MA
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Sunday, January 12th, 2020
    2:00pm - 5:00pm
  • Funeral Mass

    Monday, January 13th, 2020 | 11:30am
    Saint Agnes Church
    51 Medford Street
    Arlington, MA
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Monday, January 13th, 2020

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