Gerald Donald Brien

FALMOUTH – Gerry Brien passed on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, on his 96th birthday. The cause of death was complications from Lewy body dementia, but the simple accumulation of years also had much to do with it. His passing occurred at the home of Barbara and Ron Ward in Falmouth, with Barbara at his bedside along with his stalwart niece, Judy Montgomery. His passing had been anticipated for weeks, but the family suspected he’d hang on for one more birthday. Mission accomplished.

Gerry leaves two children, Bev Melki and family of Monroe, Wash. and Michael Brien of Sarasota, Fla. He also leaves older sister, Bertha (98) and brother, Capt. Ernie Brien (100 shortly).

In addition to Lara and Chris, children of daughter, Bev, Gerry also became the unofficial “Grampie” for the children born into the Ward and Edwards families, including Jen Ward, Sarah Hart, Lindsey Seavey, Harry Ward, Ellie Ward, Jesse Edwards, Nathan Edwards, Austin Ward and Julia Ward. Two nieces, Kathie Giering and Judy Montgomery were present and enormously helpful in Gerry’s final stages.

The families are grateful to the home-aids, nurses and hospice representatives for their help and support throughout. There are far too many to name here, but they and we know who they are.

A special salute to Barbara Ward who welcomed Gerry and his wife, Charlotte, into her family home more than a decade ago and took the lead in giving them a rich family life. Gerry stayed on after Charlotte’s death in 2013 and Barbara took Charlotte’s wish that Gerry always be taken care of as a solemn commitment. Another mission accomplished.

Gerry was the fifth born in Portland to Margaret and Henry Brien. In his 18th year, following the lead of brothers and thousands of others who eventually became known as the Greatest Generation, his instinct to serve his country in WWII prompted him to drop out of Deering High School in his senior year and join that fight. He served honorably in the Navy through the end of the war, working primarily on supply ships and keeping a wary eye out for torpedo wakes.

After his discharge from the Navy, he continued on in various branches of the military until his final military retirement in 1964. At that point, he was married with two children and civilian life beckoned. His first marriage faltered and he returned to Portland to join the labor force and keep an eye on his parents.

In 1982, at the completely improbable venue of a social mixer at a mobile home park in Buxton, Gerry Brien of Portland met Charlotte Ward of Harrison. They were married the following year. The following 30 years were the most rewarding of their lives, with Charlotte charting the course and Gerry standing watch for the torpedoes. They settled into a pattern that elevated the importance of the military, particularly the Harrison VFW post. To his end, the most important day of the year for Gerry was the annual Harrison Memorial Day Parade, although it’s unclear whether that was a patriotic act or the lure of riding in a convertible with the pretty Harrison women.

Gerry was also an avid fan of New England sports teams, particularly the Boston Red Sox. He and Ernie spent many telephone conversations discussing Red Sox strategies and knucklehead moves by the “new management”. However, a communications problem cropped up with the influx of Latin American baseball players and how to distinguish them by name. Gerry’s resolution to that was simple- they would all be called “Mannirez”. Many conversations with Gerry about last night’s game referenced Mannirez as the starting pitcher, with Mannirez coming in to pitch the late innings, and the winning run coming in during extra innings on a clutch hit my Mannirez.

Gerry lived his life on his terms. He loved family gatherings with heaps of confections, cook-outs with a cold beer, one-liner responses to any situation, quips to cause laughter at any social gathering (and he had no problem supplying that laughter), gizmos advertised on TV (remember bladeless fans?), provocative calls from Terry Edwards and just being included on the guest list. The family suspects that list holds clues to living 96 years.

In deference to the Covid pandemic, no gatherings will be held until the pandemic is under control. Please share your remembrances of Gerry on the Conroy-Tully website, or standard media outlets. Some stories of Gerry should not be lost.

With that, the Brien and Ward families declare Gerry’s Mission Accomplished.

Gerald Donald Brien

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