Joseph C. Brannigan Jr., 83: Longtime legislator, community leader devoted life to service

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PORTLAND — Joseph C. Brannigan Jr., 83, of Concord Street, died at his home on Jan. 17.

Brannigan was born July 16, 1931, in Brunswick, to Joseph and Fern (Pearl) Brannigan. He attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

He went on to study at St. John Seminary, in Massachusetts, and was ordained a Maine diocesan priest in 1963. After eventually leaving the priesthood and marrying Claire Nadeau, he earned a master’s degree in counseling education at the University of Southern Maine.

He became a licensed social worker, and then for over 30 years served as executive director of Shalom House, a nonprofit provider of mental health care. Brannigan also served in the Maine State Legislature for over 27 years as a representative and as a senator, chairing numerous legislative committees.

He was actively involved in many local boards and committees, including the City of Portland and United Way’s Emergency Shelter Assessment Committee. Brannigan was recognized for his public service by organizations such as the Maine Association of Community Support Providers, the National Alliance on the Mentally Ill and the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

He is survived by his wife, Claire, and his son, Luke.

There will be no visitation. A memorial service will be held at Ludcke Auditorium, University of New England, 716 Stevens Ave., Portland, on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m.

Donations in Brannigan’s memory may be made to Shalom House Inc., 106 Gilman St., Portland, ME 04102.

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