Cover photo for Steven John Brenner's Obituary
Steven John Brenner Profile Photo
1954 Steven 2024

Steven John Brenner

October 30, 1954 — January 14, 2024

Sacramento

My little brother Steven was born into an Air Force family on Oct. 30, 1954 in San Antonio Texas where our father Phil Brenner was stationed. According to our mom, June, his name was suggested by his four year old sister, Suzanne, who liked a boy with that name. Our parents found they liked that name too so he became Steven, with his middle name John for our mom’s father, who had 4 daughters. While there, Steve became very sick with chicken pox requiring a home visit from our doctor. He made a good recovery showing right from the beginning a strength of spirit. Thus began the life of a military brat, a special way of life filled with frequent moves (never lived anywhere longer than three years), infrequent visits home to visit extended family, many different schools and constant losing of old friends and making new ones.

Eventually we moved back to California to Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato, reunited with both our father’s and mother’s families who lived in Sacramento.  Even though still quite young, Steve enjoyed going down to the creek near our house with his sister and friends to catch tadpoles.

Our next station was an exotic one. We left for the Philippines on the USNS Edwin Patrick that had been converted to a passenger ship. Under the Golden Gate, over the pacific, Steve was mesmerized by the flying fish, the rims on the tables to keep dishes from sliding off and visiting the kennel to see the pets whose owners were taking them on the journey.

While in the Philippines the now very active Steve got used to geckos living on the ceiling, tried to catch a baby cobra and had his first pets, a pup named Gigi and a chicken named Chatterbox. Chatterbox loved ice cream and would run with the kids to catch the ice cream truck when it came around the neighborhood. He always remembered the Philippines with fondness, our trips to Manila to visit our aunt Masay and her family, and Baguio for Christmas.

Then on to Hawaii for a short year. The outdoor theater on base, vacation in Bellows Beach and most of all he loved climbing the trees growing around a scaffolding and watching the ships making their way to Pearl Harbor.

Off to Florida and Orlando, pre-Disney, where he had good friends Jim and Jeff to play and explore with. They dug forts in the orange groves, launched oranges in mock battles, explored the nearby woods, and drifted on innertubes at New Smyrna Beach. He had a dog, Heidi the Schnauzer, and went to school at St. Margeret Mary’s. He was a happy and rambunctious kid.

Then Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and the first snow he and his sister had ever lived in. Steve spent many happy times with his good friend Kip who lived across the cul-de-sac landing glider airplanes on the sidewalks. Majista the turtle and two guinea pigs Jonathan and Medina were added to the pet family. A highlight in his life at Scott was a family trip through Wisconsin around Lake Superior and back through Minnesota. Visiting our dad’s extended family members, canoeing on the clear waters of Lake Superior with dad, bloodsucking bugs, and visiting the farm where our dad grew up in Durand Wisconsin. A last summer in Illinois and a week at Camp Ondessonk and it was off to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento at the end of 1966. He and his sister often laughed remembering dad hitting an unseen speedbump too fast in the car and everyone hitting their heads on the ceiling, dad telling us “why didn’t you tell me it was there!” Dad was the Commander of the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing and it was the first time Steve and his sister could remember being taken to his work office where they saw another side to dad, the Air Force Colonel.

Here was where dad ended his Air Force career and retired after over twenty eight years. Here was where Steven and his sister ended their Air Force brat life that so molded them into who they were.

Steve finished elementary school at St. Lawrence and graduated to high school. We were finally back home in Sacramento for good surrounded by our mom’s and dad’s families. He spent lots of time visiting his grandparents, getting to know our extended family again. Most importantly were trips to the family ranch out of Wilseyville which had been in our family for a hundred years. There we were always greeted lovingly by our aunt Mary who called my brother “Stevie”, which was quite ok, and were told to never put our hands someplace without looking first. Great advice for my brother who was known previously to chase deadly snakes. There was sledding in the winter, swimming in the icy creek in the summer, and staying in the house our grandfather had built when he married our grandmother.

Steve didn’t know then when our father and uncle Bob bought MTI Business College in Stockton that one day he would be working there. Before that he graduated from Encina High School with his good friend Dana.

Steve and his sister lived with their parents in a townhouse which mom and dad bought in Campus Commons.

Sue eventually moved to San Jose and Steve started his college years at Sacramento State College. He discovered a love of tennis that lasted the rest of his life. He became quite good at it, competing in tennis club tournaments and enjoyed many years of playing tennis with friends, especially his buddy Howard.

While in college he spent five years of summers living in San Jose with his sister working at the theme park then known as Marriott’s Great America. In fact you could say he was one of their first employees. He loved working there, first on the rides and then in the stores eventually becoming a supervisor. He considered working for Disneyland but life had other plans for him. After college graduation he went to work at Liberty House, a department store, as a department manager, then a computer company where he discovered he wanted a job where he could interact with people. Thus his going to work at MTI Business College in Stockton with his mom and dad as an associate director. While I don’t think it was always easy to work with his dad, he loved helping people find new avenues to improve their lives and he and his dad eventually forged a good working relationship.

A trip to Las Brisas in Acapulco was a highlight of those years, a family trip to a beautiful place. There were Thanksgiving trips to Lake Tahoe with Steve and Sue deciding they could put chains on the tires. That was not to be. The guys who came along the freeway when it snowed just to put on chains had to do it. Dinner shows at Harrah’s were looked forward to, with various stars performing.

During this time began trips to Disneyland, after his sister and her husband Fred had their first child Jesse. The first trip with Jesse was an eight hour drive in a RV to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. Yes, it took forever to get there with Steve and dad trading off driving. These trips became a time honored tradition and furthered Steve’s interest in collecting Disney memorabilia. After Steve’s nephew Ian was born there two nephews to love and entertain and many more Disneyland trips and a Disneyworld trip.

After the tragic death of our father in 2000 it was Steve and mom running the family business. Even though Steve and mom were kept very busy there was always time for visiting, lots of visiting, for birthdays, Christmases, Easters, Halloweens, the random movie night, especially Star Trek and Star Wars. There was the trip to Capitola for the weekend with Steve and Sue’s family where Steve thought he had a fishbone in his throat. After waiting eight hours in the emergency room Steve decided his throat felt ok and off we went back to the condo. We called it the waiting room cure.

In 2008 Steve gave his sister the money to buy her horse, Pony, a generous and kind gift, knowing how much his sister had loved horses all her life. She never forgot.

Then in January 2010 the second devastating event happened in Steve and the family’s life, our so much loved mom died after struggling a year with COPD. Steve was now the sole owner and director of the business college. Luckily he had a great staff of people lead by Sally, Rose, Velda and Mary. There followed quiet years until he met Carol, someone he knew from years before. They started a fun, serious and loving relationship which included trips to various places around the country and their special place Yosemite where they often stayed at the Ahwanee and went to the famous Bracebridge Christmas dinner. They enjoyed going to the beach at Monterey and spent time together at Sacramento and Lodi where Carol lives.

Jesse was invited to join them on a trip to Las Vegas in 2012. They went to shows, walked the strip and went on the Richard Petty Driving Experience where they rode along with professional drivers driving real Nascars. They were not invited to drive one at Daytona. Jesse looks back fondly on the Las Vegas trip as being one of his best memories with his uncle.

In 2019 Steve closed the school and retired. Then came the Covid era during which both Steve and Carol came down with Covid but came through it. Steve got all the vaccines that became available after that experience.

In May of 2022 Steve took Carol and his nephew Ian on an Alaskan cruise. Steve out walked Ian on a tour of the city of Juneau, but Ian outdrank him at the bars on the ship, though Steve did enjoy the occasional margarita. Ian remembers Steve loving the beautiful scenery and the rolling of the ship in a storm.

Little did Steve know that a week after they got back he would be diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, a Glioblastoma. My brother, the kiddo, bravely and optimistically went through brain surgery, chemo and radiation. He came through with flying colors, and except for hair loss (he bought a wig he never wore) he never experienced headaches or nausea. He was speaking normally again and doing ok.

In August of 2023 he started experiencing a loss of mobility, especially on his right side, and it became harder for him to communicate. It was a devastating illness that took everything. On January 14, 2024 Steve left this earthly plain. He had wanted so much to be one of the lucky ones, to survive to five or more years, but while that didn’t happen, that strength of spirit that he had shown with chicken pox as a baby kept him fighting until the very end.


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