Brendan Brady

Obituary of Brendan C. Brady

Dr. Brendan C. Brady, 74, died peacefully on June 24th with family by his side and in the comforting care of the FF Thompson Intensive Care Unit. Brendan Charles Brady was born on November 14th, 1949 in Buffalo, NY, an identical twin and the sixth of seven children born to T. Francis Brady and Nancy Hogan Brady. He was raised in Buffalo and spent his childhood summers at the family cottage, on the shore of Lake Erie at Crescent Beach, Canada. He received a Jesuit education at Canisius High School, which he credited for influencing his strong sense of social responsibility. He attended Canisius College and then St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he found an intellectual home and vibrant social community. In 1975 he graduated from the SUNY School of Medicine at Buffalo and then completed his surgical residency at Buffalo General Hospital. While still in medical school, Brendan met and soon fell in love with Dr. Mary Daly, his supervising resident. They married in 1974 and had four children. After a brief stint in private practice in Buffalo, Brendan accepted a job as a general surgeon at the Canandaigua Medical Group. Brendan and Mary moved with their family to Canandaigua in search of life in a smaller town. In 1987 they settled in a home on the west shore of Canandaigua Lake. Brendan loved people. He made friends everywhere he went; he struck up conversations at any opportunity. At any hint of an accent he loved to ask about the speaker’s country of origin. He was that wonderful and rare combination: a man who loved to talk and talked well—a skilled teller of stories and jokes—who was also an excellent listener. He was as happy to chat with the maintenance staff as the CEO of the hospital, and equally comfortable with both. He always knew the names of all staff involved in the care of his patients. Nurses spoke of the respect he gave them as colleagues. On his travels, he made friends throughout the world—and then maintained those friendships over years. He enjoyed people everywhere, and people enjoyed him. As a surgeon Brendan was familiar with suffering and was often able to ease it. He was never afraid to reach out when friends and loved ones were suffering emotionally. When he asked how someone was doing after a great loss or failure, he made it clear that he really wanted to know—and people were relieved to talk frankly to him. Brendan loved his work. He was an excellent teacher, to both his peers and his patients. As one elderly patient wrote to him: “Dear Dr. Brady, This is the first time I have ever written to a doctor, as I really don’t care for them. You are the exception, for your wise manner and analogies that I could understand. Thank you for going to school and doing your homework well so that you could perform a miracle to spare my suffering. I feel that I was in the best hands possible.” Brendan was always eager to learn the newest surgical procedures. He performed the first laparoscopic gallbladder removal in Western/Central New York State. Wanting to spare breast cancer patients unnecessary chronic pain caused by mastectomies, he traveled to Seattle to learn to perform sentinel node biopsies. Throughout his career Brendan was devoted to caring for people who were underserved by the medical establishment. In 2005 a migrant farm worker with a frostbitten hand came to Brendan seeking medical care. Through an interpreter, Brendan learned that the worker couldn’t afford to buy gloves to protect his hands and that the farm owner did not provide them. Brendan began to learn more about the local migrant farm worker population and, for the next several years, used his expertise to improve their lives. In collaboration with Finger Lakes Migrant Health (now Finger Lakes Community Health), he established a surgical clinic where he provided free outpatient consultation and treatment to farm workers. He then made arrangements with FF Thompson Hospital to provide hospital services to farm workers for drastically reduced fees, as well as his own surgical services free of charge. As Brendan’s reputation grew, the migrant population began traveling from a radius of 75 to 100 miles to seek his care. He loved treating the migrant workers, and he enjoyed and admired his colleagues who helped him provide care at “La Clinica.” In 2012, he was named a recipient of the Surgical Volunteerism Award of the American College of Surgeons for his extraordinary service to the migrant population. In 2006 he traveled to Haiti where he spent a week at the Hôpital Sacré-Coeur in Milot, providing much needed surgical care. He traveled there annually for eleven years, and recruited other medical professionals to join him. Shortly after the 2010 earthquake, he received this message from Milot: “NEED YOU NOW!!” He traveled there as quickly as he could, helping to treat scores of patients injured in the quake. While in Haiti he always respected and enjoyed his Haitian colleagues—and loved any opportunity to listen to local music. In addition to the direct care he provided to underserved patients here and in Haiti, Brendan worked for years to address other barriers to care for low-income patients—namely, the cost of health insurance. He created a health insurance plan for the local community, successfully arguing that given the lower costs of care in rural areas, rural residents should pay less for their insurance. He dedicated nearly 30 years to serving on the board of directors of the Monroe Plan, an initiative that provides the underserved in the greater Rochester area with stable health insurance and access to care. For 15 years he served as Chair of the Monroe Plan Finance Committee, then as Board Chair in 2015. His compassionate leadership style deeply touched both the vulnerable populations that the Monroe Plan serves and the leadership staff he guided. Brendan played a pivotal role in navigating the Monroe Plan through numerous milestones, including the formation of an independent health plan in 2015. Brendan loved nature. He found great joy in exploring the trails, woods, hills, vistas, country roads, bogs and meadows of his chosen home in the Finger Lakes. For many years he did so on his bicycle, most often in the company of fellow cyclists, many of them members of the Thursday Night Men’s Club, which he co-founded. Brendan initiated a week-long TNMC bike trip, beginning with a ride from Canandaigua to Boston. Dubbed the TNMC Routemeister, he planned the routes for 16 subsequent Great Biking Adventures (GBAs), amongst them rides through the Catskills, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, and Quebec. Brendan would be quick to say that these adventures were possible thanks to his wife Mary, who contributed to the planning and drove the sag wagon for every trip. In retirement, and especially in the last decade of his life, Brendan transitioned to hiking. Monday hikes with the Rover Hiking Club were a great joy and a source of wonderful friendship. In his 60s he developed a love for the Adirondacks, where he took several trips with the Rovers. He loved to bring his grandchildren “streaming”—hiking through and around the many gorges and streams of the Finger Lakes. Brendan loved boating. As a teenager he was introduced to Algonquin Park, in Ontario, Canada, by a childhood friend. He took many canoe camping trips there—first with friends, then with his children. In the summer of 2023 he realized a lifelong dream when he introduced his two oldest grandchildren to the peaceful lakes, rivers, campsites, and wildlife he so loved. As a teenager Brendan worked summers at a local marina, where he learned a great deal about sailing. Settling on Canandaigua Lake allowed him the joy (and practice) of sailing right from his home, often under the tutelage of his first surgical partner and expert sailor, Jack Carpenter, later most often with his wife Mary, children, and friends. He gave his family the vacation of a lifetime—twice—when he served as captain of two extended family sailing trips on chartered boats in the Caribbean. Brendan loved learning. His curiosity was boundless, with interests in the natural world, geology, astronomy, and Native American history. He appreciated good writing and was himself an exceptional writer. His letters and emails leave a legacy of his feelings, observations, insights, curiosity, and humor to the many who received them. A longtime woodworker, in his retirement he devoted more time to the craft. He built beautiful wooden music boxes for each of his nine grandchildren—and fifty-one more for the children of nieces, nephews, and friends. After settling on West Lake Road at the Idlenot Homestead, Brendan and Mary fell more deeply in love with each other, their house and its history. Over the years they added history of their own as well as beauty to its grounds. Brendan created a pond behind the house where his grandchildren love to count (and occasionally catch) frogs. He planted trees and was almost as proud of his tulip and elm trees as he was his human offspring. After becoming interested in bats, Brendan built a house for the brown bats native to the area. One of his many nature-centered meditative practices was counting the bats (sometimes as many as 380!) as they left their home at dusk on summer evenings. Brendan loved birds and worked hard to attract his favorite species onto the grounds. In the backyard he installed bluebird houses; on the lakefront he built an apartment complex for purple martins and two houses for mergansers. He installed cameras in the duck houses and live streamed the “duck cams” for any interested friends and families, allowing those far from the lake access to its wildlife. Most of all Brendan was devoted to his family. Mary, his children, and his grandchildren always knew how much he loved them. Brendan shared his excitement for life with his children and brought the same enthusiasm to their pursuits. He expressed his confidence in his children, shared his thoughts and listened with interest to theirs, spent time with them at every opportunity, knew them well. Brendan was a playful and energetic grandfather. He put his grandchildren in kayaks while still in their pajamas, taught them to build campfires, regularly sprang into inventive roughhousing fun, sat quietly with them on the dock. Brendan and Mary began every day together, often with coffee down at the water. Even when they pursued separate activities, they always came together at the end of the day to share stories. They were filled with gratitude for their lives together, their family, their many friends, and their home on the lake. On May 18th of this year, just over a month before he died, Brendan and Mary celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Brendan is survived by his wife of fifty years Mary; his four children: Caryn (Matt Czaplinski) of Northampton, MA, Megan of Canandaigua, Patrick (Cathleen) of San Francisco, and Conor (Michelle Katzow) of Brooklyn; his nine grandchildren: Florence, Claire, Anna, Lillian, Gavin, Maeve, Alice, Jackie, and Emma; his siblings: Barbara, Kathleen, Michael (Nancy), Brian (Beverly Hughes), Sean (Pat Curtin); his sister-in-law Janet (widow of his eldest brother Tom), a large extended family, and countless friends. All are welcome to a Celebration of the Life of Brendan C. Brady, Tuesday, July 30th at 2:00 PM, Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, 20 Fort Hill Avenue, Canandaigua. Donations in Brendan’s memory can be made to support the medical care of migrant farm workers (Finger Lakes Community Health/Brady Fund, PO Box 423, Penn Yan, NY 14527), toward education and equipment at the ICU of FF Thompson Hospital (FF Thompson Foundation, 350 Parrish Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424), and to support compassionate care at the end of life (Light Hill, 5160 Parrish St Extension, Canandaigua, NY 14424). To share a memory or express condolences online, please visit

Celebration of the Life of Brendan C. Brady

Tuesday, July 30, 2024 @ 2:00 PM Fort Hill Performing Arts Center 20 Fort Hill Ave. Canandaigua, NY 14424
Share Your Memory of