Victoria’s Diary: I remember him well

Bob with his sons Matt and Mike.

It’s a roller coaster life that I lead and with the world at “war,” it’s been the roughest ride like no other.

For me, both professionally and personally, the loss of our COO Bob Brennan to a heart attack shook me, my staff, Bob’s family and friends to our core. With our upside down world, we couldn’t say goodbye to him in the traditional way with a wake and funeral, and we all craved the need to pay tribute to a man who impacted us all so profoundly. We needed to celebrate his life.

His family felt the same way as my staff and one had a Zoom session, the other a teleconference. Although there were many tears shed, there were smiles and even laughter. So many memories were shared about the lessons in life and business that Bob taught us all. I wanted to share with you all some of the comments from the hours of “virtual sharing” of our lives with Bob.

His robust, successful family of great achievers all agreed he was their “Blue Ribbon Brennan” as a “middle child” in a family of 10 children. He was an organizer and businessman since his childhood. 

Bob’s siblings recalled that in his teenage years, he started a distribution route selling the Long Island Press through a network of his friends and family. His father figured it was the best way to stay out of trouble. I loved the story of his sister Terry telling us how he allowed her to be a “newsboy,” but she was under orders to hide her hair under her cap. She got away with it and became one of 1,000 kids he trained and oversaw!

At 18 years of age, Bob created, led and organized his family’s Thanksgiving football tournament. His sister recalled that he would arrive at the crack of dawn at her Sag Harbor home to set up the game and prepare his roster, bringing with him custom-made T-shirts and caps. The tradition continued all these years, and hopefully one of his sons will carry it on.

I knew of his passion to ski and I worried each time he did that he should come back whole. The family shared how he was a master teacher and tormenter, pushing each of them to be better and tougher on the slopes. His favorite expression to them was “you can do this!” 

A passionate man who had a lust for life, he cherished every minute on the slopes and his brother sweetly recalled how Bob took the time to teach his kids, Matt and Michael, and then his 21 nieces and nephews how to ski with their first lesson: learning how to fall!

He challenged himself and his siblings to be the best at what they did with his mantra, “Be better, do better.” He did the same for our Schneps Media staff, too. For 20 years Schneps Media has run events, and Bob was the leader of that division. 

Bob with Ralph D’Onofrio at our staff award ceremony.

There was not a selfish bone in his body. He was always competitive, challenging and teaching our staff and his brothers and sisters to be winners. 

He was a positive force of nature, teaching us all to see the good in people and to live a life of joy. He gave that advice to his siblings and our staff members, both recalled during our memorial calls. 

A great day was a day of learning something new and Bob was a master teacher. The message from all those whose life he touched — family and colleagues — was the same: “Because of Bob, I see further, because I sat on the shoulders of a giant.”

We all agreed at the memorial calls that he went out too soon, only 68, but was at the top of his game and a real champion to and for us. He was remembered as a “grand slam” person who touched our lives and we all are now his legacy.

He made us better for his being. May he rest in peace. We will remember him well. 

I think of Bob when I look at this tree with a strong trunk and dozens of limbs.

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