Adelaide Brennan's father, Edward
Brennan, did more
than anyone in Chicago history to rationalize the city's street system.
But she remembered him for spending most of his
weekends with her and his other two young daughters, Mary and Agnes, taking
trips around the city on the "L", teaching them how to swim and going to
Benediction at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Rogers Park on Sunday
seemed to have time for the important things," she
said. "There wasn't a (weekday) night we didn't run down to the corner to look
for him walking home."
Ms. Brennan, 99, who taught for
36 years in Chicago
schools, many of them as a Roman Catholic nun, died of heart failure Thursday,
March 27, at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, her second cousin Pat Gorman
Her father was a building superintendent at a Loop
who, starting in 1901, successfully lobbied to make State and Madison streets
the center point for the street numbering system. He also was influential in
eliminating hundreds of duplicate street names and in enacting a variety of
other measures to make Chicago one of the easiest cities in the world for
finding one's way.
Edward Brennan, who attended an
estimated 600 City Hall
meetings in his efforts to straighten Chicago's streets, died in 1942. For much
of their adult lives, his three daughters worked to keep bright the memory of
their father and all he accomplished. Their mother, Beatrice, died in
Agnes Brennan died in 1999, and
Mary Brennan McGraw in
2004. So Adelaide Brennan was alone when the capstone of their efforts came with
the honorary designation of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way in August.
It was her 99th birthday.
"This tribute today," she said in a statement at
ceremony, "is the fulfillment of my hopes and dreams for many years and a very
special gift for me today."
Born in 1914, Ms. Brennan entered
the Sisters of
Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1937 and took the name Sister Mary St.
Beatrice, BVM. During her time with the order she obtained a bachelor's degree
from Clarke College (now Clarke University) in Dubuque, Iowa, and she was one of
the first women to obtain a degree from the University of Notre Dame, earning a
master's in economics, Gorman said.
From 1950 to 1967 she was on the faculty of St. Mary
High School at 2044 W. Grenshaw St. in Chicago, teaching commercial classes
including bookkeeping, typing and shorthand.
After leaving the religious order to care for her
ailing sisters, she taught disadvantaged teens in the Chicago Public Schools
Those who knew Ms. Brennan were
struck by her serenity
and good humor, even in the face of worsening physical ailments. "I tried to let
Adelaide know that her impact on me, my family and the lives of all she touched
was extremely important to this world," Gorman said.
Ms. Brennan and her sisters helped
their father create
a one-of-a-kind historical record — seven thick scrapbooks containing hundreds
of newspaper clippings from 1884 to 1942 relating the city's history, as well as
documents and correspondence on the street system.
In 1958 the sisters donated the scrapbooks to the
Chicago History Museum, where they have been an important resource for
"Edward Brennan's lifelong fascination
with a rational
system of street names and addressing is seen in the scrapbooks he compiled on
the subject over several decades," said Chicago geographer and historian Dennis
"These seven volumes provide a unique insight into
system Chicagoans take for granted."
Ms. Brennan leaves no immediate
Services were private, and a memorial Mass is being