Sharon Lynn Coffman Brannan, the former manager of the Maryland Food Center Authority in Jessup, MD, who is credited with guiding the market through changes brought on by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, died June 12. She was 62.
Ms. Brannan, a 1970 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, began at the market in 1989 as assistant to the executive director, according to Betty Allison, the current deputy director of the Maryland Food Center Authority, which operates the Jessup market. Ms. Allison said that the market went through a large reorganization in 1995, whereby the offices were centralized into one location and a single market manager position was created to oversee the seafood and produce markets. Ms. Brannan was named manager of the market in 1998.
In 2000, the firstjoint conference of the National Association of Produce Market Managers and the World Union of Wholesale Markets was held in Annapolis, MD, and Ms. Brannan was instrumental in organizing the event, according to Ms. Allison. Ms. Brannan would eventually be named president of the National Association of Produce Market Managers in 2004-05, the first time a woman served in that position.
In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, Ms. Brannan worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to beef up the security system at the market, said Ms. Allison. As a result of her efforts, workers were required to carry government IDs, and access was regulated with swipe cards for electronic locks.
"It was a major change for the market," said Ms. Allison. "We could now tell exactly who was coming and going on the market. It is the system that is still in place today."
In about 2005, Ms. Brannan was diagnosed with breast cancer, and "she worked tirelessly and effortlessly" through the ordeal, said Ms. Allison. She successfully fought the cancer into a three-year remission, but it recurred in about 2009.
"She worked through the first year of the second bout, but then she retired from the market to devote her energy to fighting the disease," said Ms. Allison.
Ms. Brannan was determined to help others with breast cancer, and she participated in many walks to raise money for the cause. For the final walk in which she was scheduled to participate, she had set a goal to raise $3,000 but her condition had deteriorated. Her husband, Bob Brannan, completed the walk in her stead, and "they far surpassed their goal of $3,000," Ms. Allison said.
"I worked with Sheree for 20 years, and she was always such an energetic person," said Ms. Allison. "We went through a lot of changes at the market, and the tenants always appreciated the energy she put into improving the facility and meeting the operational needs. We miss her dearly."
Ms. Brannan died peacefully at home June 12, surrounded by her family. Services were held June 20 at Our Lady of the Chesapeake Catholic Church in Pasadena, MD.
In addition to her husband, Ms. Brannan is survived by a son, Jay D. Murphy, and daughter-in-law, Aimee; and granddaughters Kathryn and Sarah Murphy, all of Severna Park, MD. She is also survived by her mother, Mary Martha Lorenzo of Uniontown, PA; a sister, Judy Thornton; and a nephew, Michael Shott.
Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of the Chesapeake Catholic Church, 8325 Ventnor Rd, Pasadena, MD, 21122, or to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, NC.