Brenda Parnell Hegarty

September 6, 1942 - September 1, 2021
Brenda Parnell Hegarty

Brenda Parnell Hegarty, age 78, died from complications of COVID on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She was born September 6, 1942, in Scotland County, North Carolina.

Brenda was a graduate of Chapel Hill High School and Central Piedmont Community College. Her professional career largely consisted of administrative management positions, serving many years in that capacity with American Express and most recently retiring from New Hanover County Department of Social Services at the end of 2019.

Brenda met the love of her life, John Hegarty, at the University of North Carolina. Their love for each other was matched only by their stubbornness… they married each other (and no one else) three times. John passed away in 1989. John and Brenda had two children, a son, Joseph “Michael” Hegarty, and a daughter, Mary Beth Rubright. Michael’s unexpected passing in 2006 devastated Brenda; but she somehow found the strength to carry on. Brenda was a wonderful mother, providing her children with 100% unconditional love and support, always.

Brenda loved to laugh, travel, shop, read, and Friday night wine on the porch. She also loved Christmas, her over the top Christmas gift giving earned her the family nickname Santa Brenda. Most of all, Brenda loved her family. She was a devout Catholic and a longtime member of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. She had a heart of gold and a genuine love for people, all people. Brenda was no shrinking violet. She had a strong moral compass and strong opinions. She held herself, and everyone around her, to the highest level of accountability. One never had to guess where they stood with Brenda! She also was sensitive, kind, thoughtful, and incredibly generous. She was loved immensely and will be missed beyond measure.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents, Flora Brigman and E.C. Parnell; brother James Inman; husband John Hegarty; and son Joseph Michael Hegarty. She is survived by her daughter Mary Beth Rubright and husband Jeff Rubright, daughter-in-law Lisa Hegarty, grandson Nicholas Hegarty, grandson Zachary Hegarty, three special cousins that were like siblings to her: Betty Earon, Carol MacFarland, and James Cole, and a host of extended family and friends.

Due to concerns with the current spread of COVID, a small graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Greensboro, N.C. where Brenda will be laid to rest beside her beloved John.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The American Heart Association or The American Cancer Society.

Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Post a Condolence” tab below.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S.41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099.


Purchase Flowers

Tribute Wall

Please feel free to sign the guestbook or share a memory



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • September 07, 2021
    Marilyn Costen lit a candle:
    Lit since September 7, 2021 at 9:44:18 PM

  • September 23, 2021
    Shirley Adams lit a candle:
    Lit since September 23, 2021 at 9:03:28 PM

  • September 09, 2021
    Carol J MacFarland says:
    Words just can't express the enormity of losing your Mom. Your family and friends are here to give you love and support to help you grieve and share all the wonderful memories that we hold dear in our hearts of your Mom. Those of us who were lucky to have shared our lifetime with her will forever be changed and heartbroken for losing her. Rest in peace my dearly beloved Cuz.

  • September 09, 2021
    Bill and Amy Zorn says:
    Zach: Our deepest condolances to you and your family on the loss of your Grandmother. Amy and I will be praying for you and your family.

  • September 08, 2021
    Cookie Hackney Tilghman says:
    Condolences to family. So many good memories from 1st grade until our last conversation a few months ago.