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TOWNSEND — Brandon Kilgore had just been home to Townsend for Christmas.

He and his wife of five months, Kimberly, spent about two weeks back on the East Coast, away from their home in Sacramento, Calif., to visit their families.

As he had since the eighth grade, when he was first diagnosed with a chronic liver disease, Brandon was healthy, never letting his illness slow him down.

“He was healthy as anything,” said his mother, Donna Kilgore. “He was fine.”

Less than a week after returning to Sacramento, where Kim was taking doctorate courses and Brandon worked via the Internet for 3Com Corp. in Marlborough, the former North Middlesex Regional High School valedictorian was dead. He was 23.

His family will have to wait another six to eight weeks to know exactly why, as blood tests are still pending, but it likely had to do with the liver disease.

His health and good spirits on his last trip home were typical of the way Kilgore lived his life since he was first diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, according to his father, William Kilgore. The disease would clog ducts in his liver that carry bile, and eventually destroy the organ.

“He never let it define his life,” added Donna Kilgore.

“Back in the eighth grade, before he was diagnosed, he was only getting four or five hours of sleep a night, and he was still in the top four in his class,” Donna Kilgore said. “He never complained about it and not once did he ever use it as an excuse.”

Brandon did not need many excuses.

His love of math started even before school.

Even before kindergarten, Brandon would get motion sickness and could not look down while riding in a car, so his mother would ask him math questions. With no help, he would answer double-digit addition problems for amusement.

“He was always very curious as to how things worked and was always taking toys apart,” William Kilgore said.

Years later, scores on achievement tests would land Brandon in a program that had him take the SATs before entering high school. He scored a 1290 as a seventh-grader and earned the chance to take a class at Fitchburg State College.

He took a computer algorithms class, and because he already stood over 6 feet tall, his classmates thought he was an adult and asked for his help after class, William Kilgore said.

That type of success continued after Kilgore was diagnosed with PSC, to his parents’ surprise.

“With the help of a doctor, he went on to live a very normal life,” Donna Kilgore said. “When he was diagnosed, we expected a downward spiral that included him just waiting for a donor.”

That spiral never came.

Brandon’s older brother, Ryan Kilgore, describes himself as the kind of person who lets you know if he has a headache. His brother was not.

Brandon and Kimberly spent a semester in Hong Kong even though Brandon had to take thousands of pills with him, Ryan Kilgore said.

Brandon went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute on a full scholarship. He was a National Merit Scholar.

He had been working for 3Com for a while, but had finally been offered a salaried position in October and was doing computer work to automate testing programs for networking devices, William Kilgore said.

He did that job from Sacramento, where he and Kimberly moved so she could take doctorate courses. They drove cross-country and visited the Grand Canyon and other sites along the way.

As they prepared to remember him at memorial services last week, the family most remembered the way Brandon Kilgore lived, that his laugh was always the loudest in the room, as well as new memories, such as how he taught his nephew, Will, Ryan’s son, to play drums on the recent trip home.

“He was going to plug ahead no matter what,” Ryan said. “That inspired me.”

In the end, the last weeks of Kilgore’s life were spent making those kinds of memories. Playing drums with Will, visiting family, playing the board games he had always loved. The disease did not keep him down.

“He was taken before he ever started to deteriorate with it,” Donna Kilgore said.

“We’re really grateful for that,” her husband added. “He could have spent years in a hospital bed, but he didn’t. He really went out at the top.”

Services for Kilgore were held Wednesday, Jan. 17, from the Lunenburg Chapel of the Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Home, 763 Massachusetts Ave., Lunenburg.

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