Jan. 4, 2003 - March 2, 2020
Brendan Cody's classmates at City Honors School remember how he always tried to make them feel better.
His school's crew teammates recall how he rowed hard but could also be counted on for a wisecrack to make them laugh during a demanding practice or on a long bus ride to a regatta.
And his coaches – even those occasionally targeted in his wisecracks or spot-on voice impressions – described the high school junior from Buffalo as focused, determined and relentless.
"Brendan was courteous and very sweet during practices and at regattas. And of course ... that smile!" said Leonore Olmsted Sullivan, a crew coach.
Brendan's unexpected death Monday at the age of 17 has left family members grappling with their grief and loss, but they have been consoled by so many stories revealing his thoughtfulness.
Through an online post, his parents learned about a classmate who baked a cake for biology class two months ago as an extra credit assignment but felt dejected after so few classmates would eat a slice. After sharing the disappointment with Brendan during their second-period Chinese class, Brendan signed out of class – writing "cake" as the reason for leaving class – and brought the cake to his third-period biology class where he convinced the students to eat it. "I was really happy that day, all because of him," said the student who shared the story.
"We didn't even know he was doing such sweet things like that," said his mother, Kathleen Cody. "Some of those stories were so touching."
"The outpouring of support and love makes it so comforting to know he touched people's lives," said Thomas Cody, Brendan's father, who added his son's "single thing in life was making other people feel better."
His compassion for others extended to the squash court, said Tom Hayes, Brendan's squash coach at the Buffalo Club.
"That's one of the things I've always loved about him," Hayes said.
Brendan would ease up in a match if leading by too many points to let his opponent score, Hayes said.
When asked why he would risk his lead, "he'd say, 'Coach, it's really not that important,'" Hayes said.
"All the guys on our team absolutely loved him," said Hayes, his squash coach since Brendan was a 5-year-old.
Outside sports, he long amazed his parents with his insatiable curiosity and love of science, even if it meant some surprises in their refrigerator. Brendan taught himself how to play the guitar and code, and he also had a fascination with insects as a food source. He read about which insects were eaten by people around the world for nourishment.
"He started ordering them online from Korea," his mother said.
"We'd be getting these packages, freeze-dried, and we'd see them in the refrigerator," his father added.
"Even at age 3, he was so curious about the world," his mother said. "He asked me how did the world start, and what about the planets, and the sun and the moon? And I said most people believe God made all of this. And then he said, 'But who made God?' And now, maybe he's finding out in the other life."
In addition to his parents, survivors include two brothers, Ryan and Jake; and three grandparents, Joyce Persico, Daniel Deighan and Patricia Cody.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7 in Holy Angels Church, 348 Porter Ave.