Mary Louise Brennan

April 24, 1943 ~ February 3, 2022 (age 78)


Mary Louise Brennan (age 78)
April 24, 1943 – February 3, 2022
Mary Louise Brennan (nee Hilton), 78, of Washington Township, passed away peacefully at home on Feb. 3, among many of those who loved her so dearly. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Paul and Helen Hilton, she and her parents would move to then-rural Mahwah three years later, residing across the street from the former home of poet Joyce Kilmer, author of “Trees.”
Mary Louise came of age in Mahwah, attending tiny Betsy Ross School and playing for endless hours on their Armour Road cul-de-sac – exploring the same woods that inspired Kilmer in search of fossils and turtles and playing outdoors games far more often than with dolls or at kiddie tea parties. Among her fondest memories were planting seasonal flowers in the yard with her father, and then tending to what came of them. She would relish and carry a love of nature throughout her life, making sure the wild birds were always fed when winter made things tough, and making friends with backyard deer, who seemed to like her, too, and often stopped by for a visit.
After completing grammar school, Mary Louise enrolled at The School of The Holy Child Christ in nearby Suffern, NY, where her rigorous, 10-hour curriculum sometimes included field hockey and basketball games against nearby schools, but more-so instilled a depth of knowledge that impressed just about everyone around her for the rest of her life. She was a member of Holy Child’s Class of 1961.
Following a year away at college, Mary Louise became homesick, and there are so far two generations quite happy she did. She took a job as a tour guide at NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, a position and a city she thoroughly loved. It was there she met James “Jim” Brennan of Chicago, who told a friend shortly after, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Jim, a member of NBC’s renowned Page Program, made good on his pledge, and the two were married in 1964, a day after Mary Louise’s 21st birthday. They were married for nearly 56 years before Jim’s passing in March of 2020. It was a deeply loving marriage that never wavered.
The new couple took an apartment in Maywood and soon began a family: James Jr. was followed by Paul and then Lynn, each 18 months apart. Jim’s three-job regimen became one when he was hired in 1967 to write comedy for Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show, and the family was able to buy a house – back in Mahwah – in 1968. In 1974 they moved to Naples, FL, but returned to New Jersey two years later, settling in Ridgewood.
Having tirelessly and devotedly raised her children into their high school years, “Mary Lou,” as she was more commonly known, had a desire to work again, and took a job at The Valley Hospital, within walking distance of home. She would spend 28 years at Valley, most of them as operating room secretary, an integral position in the surgical functions and medical professional scheduling of the hospital.
Despite the numbing pace of her position, Mary Lou never turned down an opportunity to be with any and sometimes all of her six grandchildren, adding to the nurturing and imagination of their youth. Having seen both of her parents pass away in their early 50s, and anticipating God may have similar plans for her, “Grandma Brennan” made the most of the gift of grandchildren, and each of them will fondly carry those moments and that special relationship for life – as will her own children.
Hiking and kayaking until age 70, planting and gardening to the end and rarely missing a Mets game, Mary Lou’s life was rich, family-centric, and full of friends who had nothing but love and the deepest respect for her.
Mary Lou, who spent her last 22 years in Washington Township – most of them with Jim by her side – was predeceased by her kid brother Alan. She is survived by children Jim Jr., Paul and Lynn, all of Bergen County; grandchildren Jaclyn and Daniel O’Connor, James III, Erin, Michael and Kevin Brennan (all now over 21); daughters-in-law Nancy and Ronni Sue Brennan, son-in-law Justin O’Connor; and niece Keri and nephew Pete of Tampa, FL.
Services will be private.

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