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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, January 30, 2002

Brandon Chernick, former Menlo-Atherton drama student Brandon Chernick, former Menlo-Atherton drama student (January 30, 2002)

Brandon Chernick, a longtime resident of Menlo Park, died in an accident Jan. 19. He was killed by a motorist on Interstate 880 while attempting to assist victims of an auto accident.

"Brandon was the nicest guy that ever lived," said his brother, Spencer Chernick, a junior at Menlo-Atherton High School. "It was just that simple."

A 25-year-old senior at San Jose State University, Chernick was born and raised in Menlo Park. He attended Menlo-Atherton High School, where he excelled in drama, a passion which his brother said he carried through everyday life.

"He needed a whole room to tell a story," Spencer said. "He was incredibly expressive."

Chernick didn't limit his storytelling to the classroom. He often created characters and voices to entertain his brother, including inventing an entire personality for a stuffed moose he had given Spencer.

"When I was younger, he created a whole magical world for me," Spencer said.

Brandon Chernick's relationship with his brother was very important to him, so much so that he risked losing his job at a movie theater by asking actor Jim Carrey, who was visiting the theater for a screening of "The Mask," for an autograph. Carrey is Spencer's favorite actor.

"We had a bond no one could take from us," Spencer said.

Following graduation in 1994, Chernick attended the College of San Mateo and later transferred to San Jose State University, where he was completing a degree in psychology in hopes of continuing his work with troubled children. Last year he worked part time as a counselor at the county children's shelter in San Jose. Family members remembered Chernick's kindness and good company.

"I would find excuses just so I could spend more time with Brandon and my sister," said Chernick's uncle, Chris Horpel, who coaches the Stanford University wrestling program. "Brandon and I had a very strong relationship."

He is survived by his parents, Clifford Chernick of San Carlos and Katherine Chernick Fauvre of Menlo Park; his brother, Spencer Chernick of Menlo Park; grandmother, Mrs. Irving Chernick; stepsister, Samantha Tucker; stepparents David Fauvre and Melissa Mason; and numerous extended family.

Family members say he was a compassionate and empathetic friend, devoted to his brother and family, and had a passion for baseball, movies, martial arts and, most of all, people.

"When he was six years old, and someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he always just answered: 'I want to be a hero,'" his brother said. Services have been held.


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