Reactions poured in from Bexley community leaders following the announcement of Mayor John Brennan's death.

Reactions poured in from Bexley community leaders following the announcement of Mayor John Brennan's death.

"Today I mourn the loss of not only our mayor but a close friend ," said Bexley City Councilman Mark Masser. "John was a devoted husband, father and someone who truly cared for all those who he came in contact with. He would always smile and tell you a joke to break the ice and then tell you how he felt about an issue. He had a hard act to follow becoming mayor after David Madison and there were many skeptics, but let me tell you, John did an excellent job and his accomplishments will never be forgotten. Just look around Bexley today and remember what a special place it is because of people like John."

Ben Kessler, city council president and acting mayor, said Brennan was much more than a politician.

"John was always so considerate and so helpful to others," Kessler said. "Whenever you'd go to a restaurant with John, he was always concerned to make sure you were happy with your food, that your order was correct, a throwback to his Broad-Nel days. He never stopped trying to be the consummate host. Small things, like how he'd always bring up cups of water for me at council meetings. I remember, early on, when I didn't know him as well, he showed up on my doorstep and offered to help me get my petitions signed for my first council race. There are all sorts of examples of small kindnesses like that that serve as a testament to John's big heart."

Kessler also recalled the business side of the mayor.

"And there were the times when we'd have a heated debate in council - on the opposite sides of a given issue - and no matter how passionately he disagreed with my perspective, he'd always be happy to share an affable beer afterwards and make it clear that our mutual respect was deeper than any given issue that we might disagree on," he said. " John was always encouraging. And Bexley was at the core of John's being. No matter what he was doing, you knew that he was doing it with every fiber of his being focused on Bexley's greater good."

Kessler said the mayor represented the best of the city.

"John Brennan was Bexley personified, quick to lend a helping hand to anyone and endlessly passionate about our community," he said. "John was our coach, our recreation director, our council member, our restaurateur, and our mayor. We will miss you John Brennan."

Bexley Service Director Bill Harvey worked with Brennan on a daily basis and agreed with Kessler's assessment.

"Bexley lost a good man today," he said. "A man who really loved the city of Bexley and its residents. Personally, I lost a friend and a solid professional associate. The prayers of my family go out to Ann Brennan and her family."

Bexley Recreation and Parks Director Michael Price said Brennan cared deeply for the city and its residents.

"On behalf of the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to Mayor Brennan's family for their loss," he said. "The Bexley community has lost a man in Mayor Brennan who cared so deeply for our community and it's residents. Mayor Brennan truly captured the spirit of the residents that make Bexley such a special place to live.

"I was always amazed by Mayor Brennan's ability to recall a resident's name simply from an address, and not only recall that resident's name, but tell you a story or history of that resident and his or her family. This ability came from Mayor Brennan having connected with and touched so many lives from his early years as the recreation and parks director through his last years as our mayor. As Bexley recreation supervisor and director from 1972 to 1984, Mayor Brennan set the foundation for the department as we exist today.

"He set an example for serving the community, for which we are eternally grateful. Mayor Brennan has made Bexley a better place to live and he will be greatly missed."

City council member Steve Keyes said he will miss Brennan's leadership.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of Mayor Brennan's passing," Keyes said. "His leadership and his personal caring have meant so much to so many people for so many decades, and our hearts go out to his entire family. He has left a profound legacy for the city of Bexley and far beyond, and the impact of his life and achievements will live on in our memories and in all that he touched. He will be truly missed, and his memory honored and cherished by all for many, many decades to come."

Bexley City Auditor Gary Qualmann said he will remember Brennan's positive outlook most.

"I've known John for only a very short two years since I became Bexley auditor, but it did not take long for me to understand what a wonderful guy he is," Qualmann said. "John always had a smile on his face, an absolutely wonderful disposition, and never seemed to let anything bother him too much. Whether it was working with the recreation department, the sports leagues, as mayor, or as a friendly resident - John was a special person in the city of Bexley and I'll miss him."

City Councilman Tim Madison said he has known Brennan for most of his life.

"John has been an integral part of every facet of Bexley for as long as I can remember and he will be dearly missed," Madison said. "While John was with Bexley recreation, he taught me how to play basketball, football, and baseball and I will forever be grateful for all that John has done for me personally and for our city over these many years. My family's thoughts and prayers are with John's family in this difficult time."

Bruce Langner, Bexley development director, said Brennan's influence extended beyond the city of Bexley.

"John will be greatly missed by those in the Columbus region with whom he became affiliated through his previous positions in Dublin and Hilliard," he said. "Many members of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the Mid-Ohio Development Exchange, our regional group of economic developers, asked me about him over the past year and I know it will be a great loss to them.

"He was a very kind and generous person and I greatly enjoyed working with him and hearing stories of him growing up on the east side. I got to see many of his former hangouts on drives we would take to and from MORPC meetings. Bexley will miss him."

City councilman Matt Lampke described Brennan as "an affable, hard-working man who selflessly devoted over 30 years to public service. His contributions to the recreation department is his living legacy, and will be remembered by multiple generations of Bexley residents. Most importantly, John was blessed with a strong and loving family on whose support we should now all focus."

Brennan also left his mark with the education community.

Bexley City Schools Superintendent Mike Johnson described the mayor as "an enthusiastic proponent of the school system."

School District Public Information Officer Amy Thompson recalled Brennan addressing school district staffers at their annual back-to-school convocation at the Cassingham Complex.

"Taking the stage, he warmed up the crowd before giving them their charge for a new year," she said. "He cracked a few weight loss jokes at his own expense - oblique references to his rigorous chemotherapy regimen - as nervous laughter rippled through the audience. Then Mayor Brennan doffed his baseball cap, revealed his shiny bald head and claimed to have been recently mistaken for Bexley High School science teacher, Mark Liefeld, who is famously known for his clean-shaven pate. The crowd relaxed and roared with laughter along with the mayor."

Mayor Brennan was a fixture at many Bexley Schools events, cheering on teams in the stadium, shaking hands at school festivals, serving on task forces and committees to help advance the mission and vision of the community's schools.

"John was a friend of the Bexley schools for well over 30 years as the recreation director, city council member, owner of Brennan's Restaurant, and as mayor," said Chris Essman, Bexley Schools treasurer. "John always was helping the schools, the kids and the community and always did it with a smile. He was truly a special person who loved Bexley."

"John Brennan worked tirelessly to stay intimately connected to the community," added Johnson. "He knew all of us individually and took the time to care for each of us. He addressed the needs of the community much like he did when he campaigned for office, one person at a time."

Jane Gibson, director of business, finance and facilities for the Columbus School For Girls, said Brennan was a friend of that institution.

"John Brennan was a dear friend to Columbus School for Girls," she said. "He worked with and supported the CSG administration with many events including the current Landmark Construction Project, commencement, and other special events at the school that involved the Bexley community. He proudly introduced Liza Lee to the Bexley community when she was named Head of School in 2009, which helped make her transition into the neighborhood, as well as CSG, seamless. He was such a pleasure to work with. The flag at CSG is at half-staff in honor of our friend, neighbor, and community leader."

Christy Rosenthal, director of development and external affairs at CSG and a Bexley resident, called Brennan "an authentic and enthusiastic leader. He was committed to a robust community and was a terrific partner and friend with the institutions that help define its fabric, including Columbus School for Girls. He will be missed greatly."

Bexley City Attorney Lou Chodsoh worked closely with Brennan.

"It has been my privilege to work with John these last four years," Chodosh said. " He loved the city so much. His enthusiasm was catching. He fought the disease as hard as he could, and right up until the end he asked me questions about what was going on. Although his death was not unexpected, it is just so hard to believe that he will not be sitting at his desk or driving around Bexley making sure everything is all right. I and my family are saddened; we wish his family only fond memories."

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt described Brennan as the ultimate public servant.

"All of us who had the pleasure of working with John as Hilliard's Parks and Recreation Director were deeply moved by John and his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer," Schonhardt said. " John served the Hilliard community with the same enthusiasm and passion that he served the City of Bexley as it's Mayor. John was everything that one could ask for in a dedicated public servant. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.'