“Joe was a no-nonsense editor. He wouldn’t dilly dally about what needed to get done or who needed to write what. He was a good guy.” — Paul Hammel (reporter at The World-Herald)
When Rose Sullivan’s father died, the Omaha World-Herald gave her a book.
It was filled with memories of her father, Joseph Brennan, who had worked at the newspaper for 27 years. Staff members had compiled them for his family.
“I haven’t read all of them; it’s so hard,” Sullivan said. “But it’s good to know it’s there.”
She gets sad this time of year when she remembers her dad, who was working as the night editor at the newspaper before he died following a fall in 2014.
When she started donating to Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity, it felt like a reminder that Brennan was still very much a part of The World-Herald.
“It’s like he’s making a mark without physically being here,” Sullivan said.
She donated $58 the year after her father died, a dollar for every year he would have been alive.
She remembers her dad being a quiet, giving man who was a little different from the other dads.
He never wore a T-shirt, instead opting for a button-down shirt with a collar, khakis and belt. He wore jeans only if he was going to a baseball game.
Some of her favorite memories are of those games, when Brennan took the kids to see the Omaha Royals at Rosenblatt Stadium. Mom never came; it was their time with Dad.
And he had a passion for news.
Sullivan remembers watching Brennan read his stack of newspapers, cover to cover, every Sunday morning. And every time there was an election, Brennan was there to talk about it. As far as Sullivan knows, he never missed voting in a primary from the time he was 18 years old.
“I could have a conversation about politics with him and find out he had a different opinion, but he was never trying to influence me,” Sullivan said. “That’s how I hope I can be as a parent.”
Sullivan has two sons of her own, one named after her father. Brennan never wanted to name a son after himself, but Sullivan and her mother, Pat Brennan, thought it was fitting for a grandson.
Sullivan’s boys will never know their grandpa, but they will be able to read his articles. Sullivan still has stories he wrote for The World-Herald.
She remembers a phrase from a letter that U.S. Sen. John McCain wrote to the country before he died: “Nothing is inevitable here,” he said.
For Sullivan, donating to Goodfellows is proof of that statement. It’s about uniting her suffering over losing a parent to the suffering of those looking to Goodfellows for help. Every dollar given to the charity goes directly to those in need.
This year, she is donating $62 in his memory.
“If somebody is hurting in our community, we’re not all going to succeed,” Sullivan said. “If they’re hurting, I feel like it’s everyone’s responsibility to help.”