Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home

199 Woodford Street, Portland, ME


Ethel Julia Brennan

August 12, 1923July 29, 2020

Ethel Julia Brennan passed away peacefully in the spiritual embrace of her family on July 29, 2020 after a long and full life. Ethel, the eldest of Ralph and Mary Humphreys’ four daughters, was born on August 12, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She studied nursing, at the Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia, where she received her Registered Nurse Certificate, whereupon she took a Commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy Nurse Corps. She enhanced her nursing credentials through programs at several Naval Hospitals, advancing in rank through promotion. Ethel was posted to the Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island, but it was across the Narragansett Bay, at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, where she met the love of her life and devoted husband, Naval aviator Lieutenant William (to her, Willie) Brennan. They were married on her birthday, August 12, 1950.

Throughout a professional career that spanned 40 years, she was long an advocate for acknowledging the value that all professionals bring to the job. A highly trained U.S. Navy Surgical Nurse, Ethel recognized the value of all the professionals in service to the patient. Caring for the sick or injured is not just about doctors or nurses, but an entire team of technicians, food service providers, custodians, administrators – all wearing different hats but all working towards the same goal of helping people in need of help.

For many just beginning their careers, Ethel was kind and inspirational. She consistently conveyed confidence in who she was, what she knew, and how to get things done, and done well. She seemed to be the one who people went to for advice; her voice was so strong and her stance so purposeful. Ethel inspired her youngest sister Jean, as well as both of her daughters and one of her daughter’s-in-law, all three of whom had worked for her as nurse’s aides in the Castine, Maine Community Hospital, to follow her into the field of nursing.

Ethel was also a relentless volunteer in her community and in heath centers, both large and small, around the country and beyond; Philadelphia, Monterey, Boston, the Island of Bermuda, Castine, Bangor and Blue Hill, Maine; communities of people who benefited from her desire to serve, to help those in need, and to lead by example. Her deep love of God and her passion for her church is where Ethel found her life’s inspiration and her desire to serve. She was fond of saying hers was not a life to write a book about. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps true inspiration does not need to be heralded in a book, as the measure of how deeply she inspired is found within the hearts of those who love her dearly.

Ethel is survived by her loving husband CAPT William “Willie” Brennan; the couple would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on August 12th. She is also survived by her four children, Bill and wife Heather Brennan of Castine, Maryann Russell of Falmouth, Kathleen and husband Bob Hoffmann of Yarmouth, Michael Brennan and wife Sarah Speare of Falmouth; 15 grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren.

The family would like to express sincere appreciation to the care givers at Sedgewood Commons of Falmouth and the loving hospice nurses with Compassus of Scarborough. Due to the COVID pandemic, funeral services will be private. It is the family’s wishes that donations be sent in memory of Ethel to Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Falmouth.


  • A Mass of Christian Burial

    Friday, August 7, 2020



Ethel Julia Brennan

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jack Sutton

August 8, 2020

Hi Bill
I was saddened to read of Ethel’s death. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you grieve her loss.

Peter Brennan

August 7, 2020

We were saddened to hear of Aunt Ethel's passing. You are all in our hearts and prayers.


Pete, Chris and Sean

Timothy Brennan

August 7, 2020

Dear Uncle Bill and family,
We wish we could be there with you to share celebrating Aunt Ethel's wonderful life and all the love that she left behind her.
Timmy, Fredda and Ivan Brennan

Tom and Dale Mackintosh

August 7, 2020

Sending our sincere sympathy to all the Brennan’s and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Much love from Tom and Dale Mackintosh

Shannon Brennan Olrich

August 6, 2020

Dear Uncle Billy, Cousins Billy & Heather, Maryann, Katy & Bob, Michael & Sarah and your whole huge beautiful extended family,
We are so sorry to have lost your dear Mom and our dear Aunt Ethel. She was a strong, wise, gentle woman, and she and Uncle Billy were an inspiring couple. We will miss Ethel dearly, and we are so grateful she and Uncle Billy have gifted us with all of you. We wish we could be there with you tomorrow. We are sending so much love to you, and peace to our dear auntie.

Ginny Brennan

August 6, 2020

We are so sorry to hear about Aunt Ethel's passing. She was a lovely, caring person with such a wonderful sense of humor. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Love Ginny and Dave

Captain Charles W. O’Reilly USN (ret)

August 5, 2020

My most sincere condolences on the loss of your dear wife and mother.

Sheila Brennan Kopf

August 5, 2020

Sending our love to all. I wish we could be with you at this time, but please know you're in our hearts.

Sheila and Buzz

Mark and Patricia Hill

August 2, 2020

We send all our love to the whole Brennan family. Ethel was welcomed us many times into her home over the years. Our favorite memories will always be sitting on the Unitarian Church steps after the Fourth of July parade having one of our hilarious conversations and that dinner at Danny Murphy’s when they told us how they met. She really was wonderful. Love, Pat and Mark

Sandy Pearson

August 2, 2020

To Captain Brennan and the whole family
My condolences on the loss of Mrs.Brennen. She was so kind to me and welcomed me in her house many times.I have such fond memories .I am grateful to have had Ethel in my life
All my love


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