Remembrance: Judge Mary M. Brennan, 91

The Honorable Mary M. (Murphy) Brennan, Esq., First Justice of Charlestown District Court, a lifelong resident of Charlestown, died on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at Woburn Nursing Center in Woburn following an extended illness. She was 91 years old.

Mary was born in Boston on December 13, 1919 to Irish immigrant parents Cornelius and Julia (Hayes) Murphy. Mary grew up in Charlestown and was educated in the Boston Public School system, graduating from Girls High School in 1937.

Mary proudly served her country as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Regis College, Mary went on to earn degrees from Radcliffe College, Harvard College and Boston College Law School, passing the Massachusetts Bar Exam in 1954 at a time when less than 10% of those taking the exam did so successfully.

Mary began her legal career in private practice, assisting many local residents with the legal process. In 1966, she joined the US Attorney’s Office, eventually heading up the Bankruptcy Division. She remained there until her appointment to the bench by Governor Edward King in 1980.  It was shortly thereafter that Mary was appointed as the first woman Presiding Justice of the Charlestown District Court. It was here that she felt enormously gratified to serve the people and the community she loved.

The Honorable Mary M. Brennan, Esq., retired from the bench in 1989.

Mary was perpetually involved in local and state politics.  She actively supported candidates from City Council to US Senate, campaigning vigorously for several gubernatorial and mayoral candidates.

Ever close to the action, Mary was able to contribute significantly to many community organizations and initiatives, including the Federation of Charlestown Organizations for which she served as Secretary.  She anxiously volunteered her time and talents as a member of American Legion Post # 26 of Charlestown, the Massachusetts Judges Conference, and as Judge Advocate for the Battle of Bunker Hill Parade. She particularly enjoyed judging the American Legion oratorical contests, marveling at the knowledge, skill and poise of local high school candidates.

Mary is the beloved wife of the late Henry T. “Buddy” Brennan. She is the devoted mother of Judith M. Brennan and her husband Daniel King of Charlestown and Mary P. Brennan and her husband John Caldwell of Charlestown.  She is the loving Nana to Meghan and Kevin King, Erin, John and Julia Caldwell. She is the beloved sister of the late Julia Lent, Eileen Kinsella and Cornelius Murphy Jr. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend Mary’s Funeral on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 9 a.m. from The Carr Funeral Home, 220 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, followed by her Funeral Mass in St. Mary’s Church, 55 Warren Street, Charlestown, at 10 a.m.  Interment at New Calvary Cemetery, Boston. Visiting hours will be on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 from 4 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a memorial donation in Mary’s name to the Michael P. Quinn Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 290216, Charlestown, MA  02129.

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