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William J. Brennan III, 71; sought to use law to aid needy

PRINCETON, N.J. -- William J. Brennan III, the son of late US Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and an advocate for integrity in the legal profession,

died May 17 of cancer at University Medical Center at Princeton. He was 71

Georgiana Brennan said her husband used his legal career to advance the idea that the profession was meant to help others, not merely make money, she told The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark.

Upon becoming president of the New Jersey State Bar Association in 1984, Mr. Brennan said many in the profession were concentrating on earnings "rather than its traditions and the opportunities it offers for public service."

Born in East Orange, Mr. Brennan spent much of his childhood in Newark. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Colgate University.

After military service, Mr. Brennan earned his law degree from Yale and spent 34 years at the Princeton law firm of Smith, Stratton, Wise, Heher & Brennan.

He also served as special counsel to Governor Richard J. Hughes and was an assistant attorney general.

Friends and family said Mr. Brennan's relationship with his famous father was close. Before the elder Brennan's death in 1997, his son would fly his twin-engine Beechcraft plane to Washington, D.C., on Sundays for visits. Georgiana Brennan said her husband never sought to capitalize on his father's status.

"He never made a big deal out of it. Yet, he always tried to measure up," she said.

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