Former Upland Councilor Brendan Brandt, Passes At 57

Brendan Brandt, the scion of one of Upland’s premier lawyers who himself cut an impressive swathe through the Inland Empire’s legal community and served on the Upland City Council for a dozen years, has died. He was 57.
Brandt was born in 1964 at Vandenburg Air Force Base to his parents Barry and Barbara Brandt, while his father was yet a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Office.
Brendan’s older brother Brian recalled that when their father was discharged, Barry Brandt was offered several jobs with law offices in California as well as his native Connecticut, and that he chose Upland, which Brian Brandt described as “an agricultural community at that time. This was the early to mid 1960s. There was always a lemon grove just a few yards from our house when we were growing up as kids. That was our lives, running through the groves. Brendan loved Upland and he lived in Upland, other than when he was in college and law school, his whole life, until two years ago.”
An influence on young Brendan was his paternal grandfather, who had made his way in the world as the owner of a successful table building company. Their grandfather was inventive, Brian said, and had patents for a type of hook and cable used to land planes and another patent for an electrical cable bundle used in household settings for placement underneath a rug.
Brendan attended Sycamore Elementary School and Magnolia Elementary School and then went on to Pioneer Junior High. It was at Pioneer that he met the girl who would become his wife, Patti.
“What we had as kids was pretty idyllic,” Brian Brandt said. “We did a good deal of hunting and fishing up Cucamonga Creek. Upland was our paradise. Eventually, when we were older, Lewis Homes started to come in with tractors and in three or four days the trees in one of the groves would be ripped out, and they laid the foundations for houses. Over the years, one by one, the groves were gone and Upland became the suburbia it is today.”
Both Brian and Brendan had a younger sister, Pam, who was born in Upland. As the Brandt children grew, their father became part of the Upland establishment, first in the role of assistant Upland city attorney, which came about as a consequence of Barry Brandt’s status as a partner in the law firm of Maroney and Brandt. Barry Brandt’s law partner, Don Maroney, was Upland’s longtime city attorney. While his children were of school age, Barry Brandt was elected to the Upland School District Board of Trustees.
Brian characterized his brother and himself in their youth as “rambunctious,” and noting that he and his brother and sister were products of a “strict Catholic upbringing,” said that both he and Brendan “were shipped off to Damien High School rather than Upland High School where we were given what was not necessarily a better education but one that was more disciplined.”
At Damien, both brothers excelled in athletics as runners, competing on the cross country team on a three-mile course in the fall as well as running the one-mile and two-mile races on the track team each spring. “Brendan shattered my records,” said Brian, who was two years ahead of Brendan.
Of note was that Damien’s main cross country rival at that time was Upland High School. Historically, Upland had consistently bettered Damien, which is located in LaVerne. When Brendan was a senior, during the 1981-82 academic year, Damien’s cross country team at last outsped Upland High’s.
“At Damien, our arch-rival was Upland, which was the reigning powerhouse in all kinds of running,” Brian said. “Brendan’s senior year, Damien defeated Upland in cross country. It wasn’t that big of thing anywhere else, but it was huge at Damien.”
Brendan Brandt attended UCLA as an undergraduate.
Both of Barry Brandt’s sons emulated him in becoming lawyers.
“I don’t think we were pushed into it, but we gravitated to law as a career because that’s what we knew,” said Brian. “My father was involved in municipal law, some business law, but most of his work was in family law. Both Brendan and I saw enough of my dad sometimes getting calls at midnight with someone complaining about their spouse not following custody orders and wanting to get an injunction or restraining order, to the point that we knew we didn’t really want to get into family law as a profession. But we grew up with a lawyer as our role model, and after college, we both followed suit. After college, I went to Santa Clara and Brendan obtained his law degree at the University of San Diego, which is a Catholic Church-affiliated institution.”
Professionally, Brendan went to work early after passing the bar in 1990 with the law firm of Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden. In 1997, in league with Stephan Saleson, another attorney at Gresham, Varner Savage, Nolan & Tilden, both Bruce Varner and Brandt departed from Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden, based in San Bernardino, to form Varner, Saleson & Brandt, which was based in Riverside.
Brendan practiced in the area of business law, real estate and real property, labor and employment law and civil, commercial and business litigation. In addition to being a member of the California Bar, he was a member of the Federal Bar Association, the Riverside County Bar Association, San Bernardino County Bar Association, and the Western San Bernardino Bar Association.
Outside of California courts, Brendan Brandt argued or prepared cases that were heard by the United States District Court for the Central and Eastern Districts of California, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. He won multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements in several cases.
“Brendan was hugely successful in his legal practice,” Brian Brandt said. “He argued successfully several cases before the Court of Appeal, and case law was made on a number of cases he was involved in.”
Continuing, Brian Brandt said, “In the legal business you go up against so many other lawyers. In the courtroom, Brendan was no shrinking violet, but he had no dire enemies because he was ethical. His word was his bond. That goes a long way. He was well respected. He knew the law. He and I exchanged notes and conferred with each other a lot, at times literally every day, going over the law generally or in depth. We would bounce ideas off one another, giving each other our take on this part of the law or another, that sort of thing.”
His brother, Brian said, “was heavily invested in the Upland community.”
Brendan was elected to the school board, and served thereon from 1999 to 2002. In 2002, he was elected to the Upland City Council. He served a dozen years as a councilman, leaving the council in 2014, having chosen not to seek a fourth term.
His brother’s honesty carried over to his time as an elected official, Brian Brandt said.
“During his time on the council, there were things that went awry,” Brian Brandt said. “People went to jail,” he said, alluding to then-Mayor John Pomierski, who was convicted in federal court on corruption charges. “There was the Colonies case [the prosecution of one of the principals in the Colonies Partners, the development company which built residential and commercial subdivisions in northeast Upland.] There were lawsuits. It all revolved around Upland. Brendan came though it all, and was never tarnished. I think that speaks well of him. He had ethics.”
Brendan Brandt was the vice chairman of the Upland YMCA Board of Directors, a representative on the Baldy View Public and Private Coalition Board, a former executive committee member of the San Antonio Community Hospital Business Benefactors, and was an an appointed member on the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association Board of Retirement.
Brian Brandt related two episodes in his brother’s life that were illustrative of his character.
“When he was at Damian, there was this guy who was running for student body president, a jock on the football team who was popular but not very serious,” Brian Brandt said. “The priest who was the student advisor recognized that and sort of tapped Brendan to run for student body president because he had such high regard for him. Brendan ran, and won the election. He went up against the most popular kid at Damien, not because of his own ambition but because that priest thought of him as a natural and the best leader.”
On another occasion, while Brendan was yet in high school, Brian said, his brother learned that someone had “made some catcalls at Patti, who is now his wife. Nowadays we would call it sexual harassment. Brendan heard about it and grabbed me, while I was sitting on the couch, and we drove around town until we found them. He made those guys go and apologize to Patti. He looked out for other people. He loved Patti and made sure she was not hurt in any way.”
A lifelong runner, Brendan Brandt generally ran at least six miles a day six days a week, while occasionally moving the distance up to ten miles. He was training to run in the Boston Marathon, normally held in April, but which had been canceled in 2020 and which was postponed in 2021 until October.
On Saturday, August 14, Brendan and his wife had gone to Ventura, where he was running in the Beachfront Half Marathon, intending to use it as a tune-up for the Boston Marathon, and Patti was participating in the five kilometer event also held that morning.
At roughly the four-and-a-half-mile point on the 13 mile course, Brandt collapsed. Running with him was a physician, who immediately began chest compressions. Shortly thereafter, paramedics arrived. They continued their ministrations as he was transferred to a hospital. Brendan had, however, suffered a massive heart attack, and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“As you can imagine, we’ve been going over this,” Brian Brandt said. “You can say that there is nothing good about losing someone like him, but the one thing you can pull from it is he loved to run and he died doing what he loved.”
Brendan Brandt is survived by his wife, Patti, and three children, Kyle, Conor, and Amanda; his father, Barry Brandt; mother, Barbara Brandt; brother Brian; and sister Pam Brandt Shikiar.

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