FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The first floor conference room was filled beyond capacity Wednesday afternoon - by far the largest group in recent memory that has gathered for the Board of Selectman’s biweekly meeting.
Much of the crowd was there for the annual Fairfielder of the Year presentation. But one body was missing — the honoree himself.
Robert J. Brennan Jr. was unanimously named 2011’s Fairfielder of the Year. Brennan, former chair of Fairfield’s Zoning Board of Appeals, died on Oct. 19 at the age of 68.
“He was a giant among men in this community,” said Selectman James Walsh, who co-nominated Brennan for the award. “My only regret is that we could not give this award to him himself.”
Brennan’s daughter, Katie O’Leary, accepted the award. Brennan's wife Alyson was there along with some of Brennan’s six children, four grandchildren and friends.
Brennan served on Fairifeld’s Zoning Board of Appeals from 1987 through his death, and was chair of the board when he died. Brennan’s volunteerism spread far beyond town government.
Brennan was involved in a with many local groups, including the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy (Lauralton Hall) Board of Trustees, the Fairfield University Alumni Association Board of Directors, Fairfield University Board of Trustees, Fairfield University Stag Booster Club, the American Cancer Society Board of Directors, Fairfield College Preparatory School Advancement Council, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Gaelic American Club, the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club, and both the Connecticut and Bridgeport bar associations.
“This was a guy who immersed himself in Fairfield in every way,” Walsh said. “Because he loved [the town] and he loved the people in it.”
Former Selectman Sherri Steeneck, who also nominated Brennan for the honor, said the award was about more than just his service to Fairfield. “If you called on him for anything, he was there to help you out,” she said.