Irvington Legacies — A Tribute to Jim Brennen

by The Irvington Historical Society

The Irvington Historical Society and our entire Irvington Community celebrate the life Jim Brennen, a friend and wonderful member of our community.

Jim Brennen, 75, passed away at St. John’s Hospital in Yonkers on March 8, 2023.  Jim was born in 1947 and grew up on Sheldon Avenue in Pennybridge, which is in Tarrytown.  He went to the Sheldon Avenue School through second grade, then to the old East Irvington School for two years, then to Dows Lane School and then to Irvington High School, which was on Main Street at the time.

Jim always hung out with kids from Irvington, hitchhiking down and back on Broadway to get from his home to Main Street.  Because the New York State Thruway was not built until 1955, much of the area surrounding Pennybridge were cow pastures with chickens and horses.  No doors in their neighborhood had to be locked, and Jim and his friends played games that people might not even remember…like ringolevio, huck-a-buck…and they caught tadpoles and frogs and swam in the old water hole across from the Sheldon Avenue school.

Jim’s family moved to Pennybridge before he was born.  A friend of his father’s worked for the Duchess of Talleyrand, who had a piece of property there with a large house.  Knowing the Brennens were looking for a home for a large family, his father’s friend asked the Duchess if the Brennens could live there in her house, and she agreed.  During World War I, their house had been used as a convalescent home for injured GIs.  Downstairs they had a half a gym, with a basketball net and a bowling alley. 

After graduating, Jim worked at the Bank of New York for 1 ½ years and was then drafted.  He served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970 and was there for the Tet Offensive.  When he came home from the war, he went to work at the phone company, (which was then called Bell Telephone), and in 1971 married his wife Sharon.  Jim was a member of the Irvington Fire Department for 47 years – serving as chief from 1981 to 1986 – and was President of the Irvington Fire Company for 18 years.  He was also a riding member of the Irvington Volunteer Ambulance Corps, serving for 22 years as an EMT and 9 years as Captain.  Jim was on the Rec Commission for 32 years.

Jim will be remembered as a committed coach, volunteer, and wonderful member of our community.