June 16, 1934 – March 9, 2016
Gerald M. “Jerry” Brennan, co-founder of Brennan’s Bowery Bar in Clarence and a member of the 1955-56 Canisius College basketball team that reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight with an upset victory over perennial powerhouse North Carolina State, died Wednesday in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga. He was 81.
Born in New York City to Irish immigrant parents, Mr. Brennan came to Buffalo on a scholarship to play basketball for Canisius. The team’s tournament victory over North Carolina State – in four overtimes – was considered a major upset. That team was inducted to the school’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
A 1950s-era Marine Corps veteran, he graduated from Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Va., and rose to the rank of lieutenant.
After his service, Mr. Brennan worked in educational publishing for Doubleday and Laidlaw Brothers.
Mr. Brennan and brother-in-law David Shatzel in 1970 founded Brennan’s at Main Street and Transit Road, following through on an idea to open a New York City-style bar in the suburbs. Brennan’s features a menu of traditional Irish and American food, with Irish beer and ale on tap.
Family members said that with his charm and wit, Mr. Brennan was a sure fit for the business. Drawing from his experience working in family-owned restaurants in New York City, he believed bars should never have a clock with the right time or windows showing how nice it is outdoors – so no one would want to leave.
“If you met Jerry, you didn’t want to leave,” said a daughter, Molly Brennan. “ … Jerry had a loud, bold laugh that will be greatly missed.”
Mr. Brennan’s wife of 33 years, the former Marion P. Shatzel, died in 1989.
Survivors include his companion of 25 years, the former Bernadette Nye; two daughters besides Molly, Kerry Sheets and Maura Bennett; two sons, Timothy and Matthew; one brother, Patrick; and 19 grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at noon Tuesday in the Amherst Chapel of Amigone Funeral Home Inc., 5200 Sheridan Drive.