Thomas Brennan O’Brien, III, died in June 2016 at age 30. Brennan was a 2008 graduate of the Robins School of Business. After college he relocated to New York City, spending six years at Barclays Capital within Structured Investments, where he earned his CFA, and most recently as an Executive Director at CIBC World Markets. He was extremely proud of being a graduate of the University of Richmond and often remarked that the Robins School was one of the best business schools in preparing students to excel in a finance career. He also valued his UR friends and contacts.
Brennan was born in Philadelphia and graduated Moorestown High School in Moorestown, NJ. He is survived by his wife Allison, parents Federica and Thomas, and his sister Alexandra.
Dr. John Earl, who had Brennan as a student during his time at the Robins School, remembers him, saying, “In my 35 years of teaching at University of Richmond, Brennan was one of my favorite students. Brennan was an excellent student and a great person. He was mature, motivated and worked well with faculty and other students through his engaging personality. After graduation he worked to help Richmond students start their careers on Wall Street. Every year when the Student Managed Investment Fund would take students to NYC, he was there to give advice and assistance. My last email with Brennan was in April when we planned to attend the Mets game in September during the SMIF trip. Dr. Jerry Stevens, Dean Bagranoff and I went and remembered him. Brennan will be missed by everyone who knew him.”
Dr. Jerry Stevens also shared a remembrance of Brennan. “Brennan and I had a special relationship beyond the classes, field trips, advising, and student organization contacts. Brennan took a money and banking class with me early in his college career and followed up with my investments class, student managed investment seminar, and CFA seminar. We took trips to a R.I.S.E conference in Dayton, Ohio, and to NYC twice. Since he knew me well, he revealed his craving for coffee, which was not available in the business school for students at that time. He proposed a plan where he would bring his coffee pot and set it up in my office, thus satisfying his need for caffeine, and if we worked it right, we could make a few bucks along the way. We settled for a coffee pot but only for his use. After graduation he always offered to take me out for coffee whenever I was in NYC even though he knew I don’t drink coffee, but we did meet for lunch on a number of occasions. He sent me an email in May 2016 asking if John Earl and I might be coming to the city anytime soon. I responded that we didn’t have plans to visit until September, and it was then that he told me that the fall might be too late because of his advanced stage IV cancer. I had my first and last cup of coffee that night.”
While at Richmond Brennan was awarded the Student Service Award, as voted on by the finance department, for his exemplary contribution to the school. He also was the general manager of the Student Managed Investment Fund and held leadership positions with Sigma Alpha Epsilon during his time on campus.
After college Brennan became an outdoors enthusiast, having summited Mount Whitney, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker, ice climbed in Ouray, CO and hiked Patagonia with his wife, Allison. He also completed many triathlons including Ironman 70.3 EagleMan. He was also an avid motorist, participating in the Liege-Rome-Liege Road Rally. As his senior leader at CIBC remarked in an email to staff, “Brennan had the uncanny ability to pivot from a discussion on an esoteric derivative transaction to the latest innovation in cycling gear.”
In November of 2014, Brennan married Allison Sottile. The two met when he agreed, as a favor, to show her around the UR campus when she was considering colleges. The two enjoyed spending their weekends together at their Catskills home in Livingston Manor, N.Y., biking, hiking, and grilling with friends and family.
His infectious love of life and competitive nature were a testament to his unrelenting spirit through his eight-month battle with adrenal cortical carcinoma, a rare type of cancer. This determination was underscored by his leadership of Team O’Brien at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Cycle for Survival on his 30th birthday, during which he cycled and was the featured patient speaker.
Brennan fought his disease in the same way he tackled challenges in the professional and athletic arenas — with a composure and resilience that made an impression on all who were lucky enough to spend time with him during the last months. Brennan will live on through countless tales of adventures and travels and through his strong relationships with friends, family and colleagues.
If you would like to reach Brennan's family, they invite you to send emails here: RememberBrennan@gmail.com.