Anne Talbot Brennan, a longtime litigator with the Baltimore law firm of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and a colorectal cancer activist, died Saturday of the disease at her home in Phoenix, Baltimore County. She was 50.
Anne Talbot Hardy was born in Baltimore and raised in Lutherville and Long Green Valley.
After graduating from John Carroll School, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia in 1980.
Mrs. Brennan began her career as a litigator at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston after graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1984.
Mrs. Brennan, who had significant experience in civil litigation cases in Maryland throughout the years, also represented insurers and corporations in insurance regulatory matters, as well as companies in general casualty, personal injury, product liability and property damage claims.
She was known for establishing and maintaining lasting, strong relationships with her clients, including one she was assigned to on her first day at the firm and represented until her death.
Mrs. Brennan had been managing partner from 2002 to 2006 of the firm's Towson office, where she had spent most of her career.
"I was very close to Anne, and I had nothing but the highest accolades for her as a person and an attorney," said Albert J. Mezzanotte Jr., a managing partner of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston.
"She was an amazingly courageous, tenacious and wonderful person. She was a fabulous lawyer, and I was blessed to practice law with her for all these years," he said.
He recalled that Mrs. Brennan had a "great personality" and a "personal charm" that she brought into the courtroom.
"Anne always felt very comfortable in a courtroom setting," he said.
Mrs. Brennan was named a Leadership Law Winner by The Daily Record in 2008 and was ranked among Maryland's "super lawyers" by the newspaper in 2007 and 2008. She was also named one of the state's "top 100 women" by The Daily Record in 2006.
In 2005, Mrs. Brennan was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, and while being treated at the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center, decided to use her advocacy skills and contacts in Baltimore to help others battling cancer.
"She created a platform to promote awareness and raise funds for two organizations dedicated to eradicating this deadly disease - the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center and the Colon Cancer Alliance," said Kristin L. B. Lemmert, the law firm's marketing communications manager.
While a patient at Hopkins, Mrs. Brennan established a centralized resource center to help patients, families and caregivers, and in 2007, she set up a fund through the Baltimore Community Foundation to benefit the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center and the Colon Cancer Alliance.
To raise funds for the two organizations, Mrs. Brennan established "Gastronomique - A Taste of Life," whose purpose, she explained, was to "raise awareness, raise money and have some fun."
Last year's Gastronomique benefit at the Maryland Science Center was the "single largest event to ever be held in Baltimore to benefit the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center, and the largest single event ever held in Maryland to benefit the Colon Cancer Alliance," said Ms. Lemmert. It raised more than $250,000.
"She died on the year anniversary of the event at 7 p.m., the hour it began," Ms. Lemmert said.
Mrs. Brennan, who continued working until February, was presented the Judith P. Ritchey Award by the Baltimore County Bar Association the day before her death.
Mrs. Brennan was an active member of the Baltimore County Bar Association, where she had served on many committees.
She was also a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and was an inquiry panel member for the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and had been a member of the Attorney Grievance Commission Review Board from 1991 to 1994.
Mrs. Brennan taught Sunday school at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Hydes and was a Girl Scout leader. She also enjoyed travel and gardening.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Mrs. Brennan at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
Surviving are her husband of 23 years, James E. Brennan, director of sales at McCormick & Co.; three daughters, Mary Ellen Brennan, a junior at the University of Virginia, Margaret "Peggy" Brennan, a senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School, and Elizabeth "Libby" Brennan, an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Prep; her parents, Glenn and Helen Ann Hardy of Long Green; a brother, Ridge Hardy of Garrison Forest; a sister, Melinda Ryan of Kennett Square, Pa.; and many nieces and nephews.