Irene M. (Sharp) Brennan “Auntie I”

January 17th, 2013

Irene M. (Sharp) Brennan, fondly known as Auntie I to most of Wilmington, died peacefullly at the Winchester Hospital on January 17, 2013, at the age of 91.
Irene Margaret Louise (Sharp) Brennan, came into this world on January 6, 1922 in Charlestown; she was the cherished daughter of Edmund and Alice (Finn) Sharp.  She spoke so fondly of growing up in Charlestown, attending St. Francis de Salles school, remembering each and every nun that had an impact on her life.
Auntie I’s maiden name Irene Margaret Sharp or as she would put it I.M. Sharp which sums up her intelligence.  Auntie I started kindergarten where she spent 5 days before being promoted to first grade, double promoted again within a couple of years and on the third double promotion her mother had to put a halt to it because she didn’t want her 11 year old to be in high school.  So she started high school at twelve and graduated not long after her 16th birthday.  Auntie I went on to Salem Teachers College, which was not the norm for a girl to attend college in the 1930’s earning a bachelor’s degree in education; she later went on to  earn her master’s degree in education from Suffolk University in Boston.  She even considered going back to school and getting her Doctorate degree at the mere age of 85. Education was of utmost important to Auntie I, not only for herself but for others, she was a great source of encouragement to everyone to get an education and a great resource to others as to how to go about it.
Auntie I’s career started in a summer retreat town know as Wilmington, “the country” for someone from Charlestown, where she came to substitute for two weeks and stayed as a teacher and guidance counselor for more than 42 years.  Auntie I taught business at Wilmington High School and retired following many years as a guidance counselor at the North Intermediate School;  the school department and her students would agree they were lucky to have her.  Her zest for teaching and her love for her students facilitated a wonderful career that Auntie I always spoke fondly of.
The best interest of the students was top priority for Auntie I; she treated her students with care, loyalty, respect, she had their back when she thought they weren’t being treated fairly and she would give them a push when she thought they were lazy, she always wanted them to strive for their best and settle for nothing less.  Auntie I gave them her opinion, good or bad, whether they asked for it or not, she helped tirelessly in and out of the classroom, and when she became a guidance counselor she was a source of encouragement and a resource to finding a way to further your education.  She helped students get into private high schools, shawsheen tech, and countless colleges that were questionable, she went the extra mile during the application process to make sure her students had everything they needed and she was just as excited when their acceptance letters arrived.
Auntie I felt very rewarded and lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of so many lives, to let others know how proud she was of them, to help build self esteem, and in turn she was very well respected and loved by countless students.  She would always be so happy to be included in many school reunions over the years and would share with us the details of the parties and of her former students.  It didn’t matter if it was your 50th class reunion and you were in your late 60’s, by the sounds of her stories you would think you were still 16 years old at Wilmington High School.  For all of you that included her in those reunions I would like you to know how happy you made her.
During summer break from school, Auntie I was the director of the Head Start program, a summer program that gave under priveledged students a head start to learning and fun.  She tirelessly rallied for the funding every year to make sure these children had the extra help they needed to succeed in the school year to come.  She also planned field trips and special events for the kids to make learning more fun.
Auntie I also ran a summer recreation program in the  Bath House  at Silver Lake’s Town Beach where many kids from Wilmington gathered for arts, crafts, and fun.
Auntie I’s talents were many, she was active in the minstrel shows and many bazaars at St. Dorothy’s Church, directed  and choreographed countless plays with the Wilmington High School’s drama club; making many of the costumes and sets, and let’s not forget her cake decorating, her license plate was “cake lady”.  Auntie made thousands of wedding, christening, anniversary, birthday, retirement, or any other special occasion cakes, and she did it with a lot of love, never expecting anything but a photo of the cake. Auntie I was also a member of the ISIS Cake Decorating Club.
Auntie I had a passion for volunteering and helping others, to help better education she continued to stay active as a member of Merrimack Valley Guidance association, Mass Association of School Counselors, and the State alumni Association.  Auntie I was active in the Wilmington Women’s Club, the Wilmington Figure Skating Club as a former CEO and at the Ristuccia Rink helping with many skating shows over the years; encouraging the skaters and enjoying every minute of it.
Auntie I loved volunteering at AIM every Tuesday where she had lots of friends,  In her later years she would often be seen on the common during the fourth of July celebrations decorating cookies to be sold to raise money for scholarships.
In her spare time she loved to spend time with her  family  attended each and every special occasion, she held court at Rocco’s every Wednesday with her girls, and she loved her newfound friends, happy hour, bingo, and movie night at the Pines in Tewksbury.
Auntie I belonged to many clubs and volunteered for countless organizations, she gave of her time, her talents, and her money, she was like the energizer bunny for a woman of her age, never letting anyone down. Her efforts did not go unnoticed and she was honored with the Wilmington Good Guy Award in 1991 from a community she loved for more than 65 years as a resident and they loved her back.
Auntie will be fondly remembered as a woman of great faith, she loved God, her husband, her family, her extended family, and  her kids  from the town of Wilmington.  She left a wonderful legacy of learning and countless friends where ever she went.  She will be greatly missed
Irene was the beloved wife of the late Paul J. Brennan, cherished daughter of the late Edmund J. Sr. and Alice (Finn) Sharp, dear sister of the late Edmund J. Sharp, Jr. and Marie Regina Sharp, sister-in-law of Francis and Ruth Brennan of Westwood and the late Henry “Bud” and Mary Brennan.  “Auntie I”is also survived by her best friend Alice Sullivan of Wilmington, as well as many nieces, nephews, godchildren, and a large and loving extended family.
Family and friends gathered at the Nichols Funeral Home, Inc., 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington on Tuesday, January 22nd at 9:00 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Dorothy’s Church.  Interment took place in Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington.  Memorial donations in Irene’s name may be made to Local Heroes, Inc., P. O. Box 136, Wilmington, MA 01887.


15 Entries in Guest Book for “Irene M. (Sharp) Brennan “Auntie I””

  1. Joan Currier Goulet says:

    She will be remembered by a whole town who loved her. She taught me to knit many many years ago at silver lake when she ran the summer program at the beach. She made both my daughters wedding cakes, she and my mother were friends from Charlestown. All of us who had her as a teacher and then as a guidance teacher will never forget how she tried to help everyone and told you exactly what she was thinking good or bad. Rest in eace Auntie I.

  2. Frank West says:

    Mrs Brennan was one of the nicest people this town has ever known. May God bless her as Wilmington had been blessed with her for many years!!
    With Deepest Sympathy – Karen and Frank West

  3. Tom Roberts says:

    Miss Sharp was one of my favorite people at WHS. When I was sent to my “guidance appointments” she would ask me questions about my future that I hadn’t really considered before. I remember once telling her I was thinking of becoming a “herpetologist” and her eyes widened and she said “What’s that?” It takes a special kind of person to be a good guidance counselor, and she was certainly that.

  4. Ellen zermani says:

    Irene Sharp was a wonderful person and guidance counselor. She always had time to listen to your questions and dreams. Thanks to her I was encouraged to follow mine…to be an elementary school teacher. She not only encouraged me, but she also helped me to be accepted at Salem State, now called Salem University. In doing so I was lucky enough to find a job that I truly loved for twenty- five years. I only hope that I may have had the same positive influence on my students that she had on her’s. I know she will be missed by her family and friends and hope that their memories will comfort them.

  5. Wayne Eaton says:

    Miss Sharp! A dynamic individual who knew her students strengths, forgetting the weaknesses.
    A community minded person willing to help where she could at no matter what her age. My memories of her are classroom memories but they are good memories because I learned how to type. In this computer age it came in handy. Thank You Miss Sharp

  6. Allan Small says:

    (Class of 1966) A wise counselor and a good friend to every student. I can’t think of anyone who knew Miss Sharp who does not owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her unfailing support, cheerful encouragement, and generosity of spirit. This was a life well lived and worthy of grateful remembrance.

  7. Chaplain Cynthia (Enos) Chancholo says:

    Miss Sharp gave me my first job working in the Head Start program and it was there that I first saw her ministry in action. When I decided (kind of at the last minute!!) that I wanted to go to college, one call from her placed me at Northern Essex Community College. In a round about way that education became the cornerstone to a degree in humanities and ultimately a Masters in Theology. So my dear Irene, thank you for all of your heartfelt and sincere ministries, helping to be a building block for mine, and making such a profound impact in this world. As you now party in Heaven, I know Jesus said upon your arrival, “Well done my Good and Faithful Servant.” I hope the cake you are now enjoying with family and friends is half as good as the great cakes you created for so many blessed people here.

    With love and respect,

  8. Anita (Rosa) Gleason says:

    the Matriach of a large family (5,000–grew to 18,000). How did she remember us all???? I know she kept my brothers, Mike and Bill, in line and they turned out very nicely. Thank you! Heartfelt feelings and prayers to the town of Wilmington….and of course her real family. Now, who will call parents when a teen is caught doing something??????

  9. Karen Bourassa says:

    I am sorry for your loss. I remember her she went to the North Intermediate school when I was in Junior high.1969-1971

  10. Bob deGaravilla says:

    Carmen I knew Irene from the North Intermediate School. She was wonderfull wih our four girls. When they married Irene insisted that she make their weddings cakes. She will be missed. My wife, passed away fives years ago this past March, and she and I often spoke about Irene and how nice she was.

  11. Ann Arsenault says:

    I am sorry for your loss, rest in peace.

  12. Debra Nickless says:

    I have known Irene for many years ( over 30 now) through ALL of the local cake clubs and shows. She will be sorely missed at our meetings. Her wit and humor will remain a constant in my mind, as will her scully cap look. LOVED IT!!!!
    I am sorry for your loss, and hope she is now at a more peaceful place where she can rest.

  13. Ruth and Frank Brennan says:

    Irene”s time has come to leave us but not without many fond memories. Her attentiveness and compassion toward her invalid sister “Jeannie” was always a priority. Similarly, later she directed her devotion and love to her husband Paul. Her generosity and active participation in countless activities at home, school and throughout Wilmington are well known.
    In addition we also remember:
    • as a teenager swimming at the Lake.
    • in a mutual teenage attraction with Walter Goss, a Wilmington hero killed in action in WWII.
    • winning at the “slots” in Las Vegas.
    • vacationing in Colorado.
    • cakes for all occasions.
    She lived a full life, now she rests in peace.

  14. Dan, Joan ONeill says:

    Oh what a loss, she was loved by many people, young, old didn’t matter to her, she always had a smile and a kind word, she will be missed.

  15. Ruthann Spaulding Soderholm says:

    Miss Sharp, you will be missed by so many people, your family, your extended family, and your student family. I will always remember meeting you in DeMoulas and getting a big hug, and you saying “Class of “61, Veranda Ave, Ruthann Spaulding”. Imagine being able to have that many students and remembering their names and class years. She was a gem that has been taken home to rest……….We who knew you were blessed to have you in our lives. Thanks for all your hard work in all you did. Rest in Peace…..

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