Donald J. Brenner
Donald J. Brenner of Columbia died at his home Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. He was 78.
Mr. Brenner was born April 12, 1932, in Lorain, Ohio, to John and Gertrude Brenner. He was the second of three children.
Mr. Brenner graduated from Lorain High School in 1949 and then worked for a year to earn money for college. The first member of his family to attend college, he attended Bowling Green State University and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1954.
While at Bowling Green State, Mr. Brenner met his wife, Kathleen Shuler. The two were married Aug. 7, 1955, in Grelton, Ohio.
Following his college graduation, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for two years, mostly at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Years later, Mr. Brenner would regale family and friends with stories of hitting artillery targets on the White Sands Missile Range and fending off tent-invading rattlesnakes while on maneuvers.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, he completed a master's degree in journalism at Ohio University and worked for several years as a magazine and newspaper journalist.
In 1961, Mr. Brenner was admitted to the doctoral program at the Missouri School of Journalism at MU, and moved to Columbia with his wife and their first son, Jay. His second son, John, was born a year later.
Mr. Brenner was awarded his doctorate in 1965 and joined the journalism faculty at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., where his youngest son, Jerry, was born.
In 1966, Mr. Brenner and his family returned to Columbia and he joined the Missouri School of Journalism faculty.
They then moved to Texas in 1972, after he accepted an appointment by Texas Tech University to help establish a department of health communications in its new medical school.
He returned to Columbia in 1977, first serving as an assistant director of MU's Health Communications Research Center, and then in 1981 rejoining the journalism faculty. Mr. Brenner eventually served as an associate dean, administering the School of Journalism's graduate studies program. He retired from MU in 1992 and remained active in professional organizations until the time of his death.
Among his rewarding experiences as a teacher, administrator and researcher, Mr. Brenner especially relished developing lifelong friendships with his many students and took great joy in their accomplishments. He was pleased to have students visit him at his home, often as dinner guests. His children vividly remember international students who sometimes prepared meals traditional to Southeast Asia, western Africa and other points around the globe.
His family members also remember Mr. Brenner for his unbridled enthusiasm. His ever-expanding collections of unique Christmas tree ornaments eventually required three oversize trees for proper display. His large collection of Lego blocks allowed him to express his creative side in designed-from-scratch, scale models of aircraft carriers and the family home, built together with his sons.
Mr. Brenner is survived by his three sons , Jay Brenner of Chesterfield, Mo., and John Brenner and Jerrell Brenner of Columbia; his brother, Bob Brenner of Lake Orion, Mich.; and his six grandchildren, Michael, Dan, Chris and Kathryn Brenner, of Chesterfield, and Adam and Rachel Brenner, of Columbia.
His wife and his sister, Dolores Homka, died earlier.
Graveside services for Mr. Brenner will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, in Columbia Cemetery, 30 E. Broadway. A memorial service will follow at 1 p.m. in Memorial Union, 518 Hitt St., on MU's campus.
Memorials may be given to the Journalism Development Scholarship fund, 103 Neff Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, or to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312.
Online condolences may be left for the family at parkerfuneralservice.com.