When Brendan was a teen, his father commuted to Langley in a car without a heater so his son could stay warm on his drive to high school.

"He was unselfish," Brendan Jennings said. "He was willing to take on any sort of burden of his own to prevent others from taking on a burden."

Vivian Jennings says it was not difficult to keep his career with the CIA a secret. Some of their friends might have suspected, she says, but none asked.

She herself knew little. "He couldn't tell me," she said.

David Bausch was Jennings' best friend from grade school on. He was Jennings' best man, the godfather of his eldest child, and his eulogist. He described him as "the funniest human being I've ever known."

"He had this unique, uncanny ability to detect something that you were sensitive about and know how to poke fun at it and get you to laugh at it and get over it," Bausch said. "Never in the entire 40 years we were friends did I ever see his humor turn mean-spirited. He had no hesitation or qualms about making fun of himself."

Bausch, who visited when Jennings was posted in New Delhi, says his friend never told him he worked for the CIA.

"He never shared or divulged details about what he was doing," Bausch said. "I think he felt honor-bound by whatever rules and propriety that he had. I did know that he believed very much in what he was doing."

"He loved serving his country," Vivian Jennings confirmed.

Jennings' assignment in Sarajevo was temporary; his family did not join him there. His last letter to his wife arrived two weeks after his death.

He wrote: "Take care of yourself, because if something happened to you, I couldn't go on."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

twitter.com/matthewhaybrown

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts