Jean W. Brennan

Jean W. Brennan, 62, passed away on Nov. 5, 2020, under Highland Hospital’s Hospice Care in Rochester. This followed six years of living with ovarian cancer, after her initial diagnosis in 2014. Over the two weeks she was at Highland Hospital, her family (daughter, brother and partner) were grateful to have been able to visit often and spend so much time with Jean.

Jean grew up in Rochester and was a resident of Lake Placid.

She is preceded by her father Robert S. Walsh and second husband Howard C. Smith. She is survived by a large and loving family as well as close friends in the Adirondacks and beyond. These include her mother Mary C. Walsh; daughter Katie Brennan (Simon Shergold); granddaughter Molly Shergold; brothers Daniel (Marcia), Patrick (Kathie), Robert Jr. (Twila), Thomas (Elaine), Steven (Gay) and John (Bronwyn Cartier) Walsh; as well as her partner for many adventures over the last four years, Steve Short.

For the majority of her career she worked as a laboratory technician and researcher at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake and at the research arms of Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and John’s Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly before her cancer diagnosis, she made a career change to become personal trainer and fitness coach, and thoroughly enjoyed her time working with patients and colleagues at Adirondack Health.

Jean had many passions and interests over the years. She was outgoing, energetic, a talented athlete and strong competitor. Through the mid and late 1980s she raced road bikes on Cannondale’s women’s cycling team. Jean was competitive on the national stage — with top-15 finishes and top-three finishes in the veterans’ class. She was also successful at the Empire State Games, winning many cycling medals including golds. Her links with the Empire State Games continued long after her racing career, where she supported athletes to compete in winter adaptive sports in Lake Placid.

She was active in the community and naturally drew people together, lending great energy to volunteering efforts as well as occasions large and small. For many years she was part of the North Country Cloggers, where she found enjoyment and great friendships. Jean also ski-instructed at Whiteface Mountain and was certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), specialising in teaching people with disabilities.

Despite her cancer diagnosis and regular travel to Rochester for treatment, Jean was blessed with a high quality of life through much of her illness and remained joyful throughout her cancer journey. Her medical team, friends and family all provided invaluable support, including her cancer support group based in Saranac Lake.

Given COVID-19, no services are planned in the near term. However, friends and family plan to gather in due course to celebrate Jean’s life — hopefully mid/late 2021.

In the meantime, if you would like to make a donation in Jean’s memory, she asked people to consider two causes close to her heart: the ASPCA or the American Cancer Society (specifically Hope Lodge), which provided so much support to her while she was in Rochester for treatments (https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/patient-lodging/hope-lodge/rochester-ny/support-us.html).