Sunday, November 05, 2017

In Memoriam: James Breon

While I was away reporting in Puerto Rico, I lost someone who was very dear to me, my maternal grandfather, James Breon.

At 92 years old, he was my last surviving grandparent and, in many ways, the one I was closest to. Despite my gypsy life, we talked on the phone almost every week. He was born the son of a Pennsylvania drugstore owner, joined the armed forces when still in his teens to fight in World War II and after stations in St. Augustine, Florida, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and Long Beach, California, he served with the Coast Guard aboard the USS Arthur Middleton in the South Pacific. He married my grandmother, Leah, during the war and then returned to the States to serve 15 years as a fireman before taking a job with the American Dairy Association and then opening a painting business that thrived for nearly three decades here in Lancaster County.

An early riser, he had an unparalleled work ethic, loved breakfasting at various diners and made yearly trips to the Thousand Islands region of Canada to fish, which he loved. He took me to New Orleans for the first time, where we strolled the French Quarter (me as a 16 year-old in a Damned t-shirt) and saw Pete Fountain live at the Riverside Hilton. Despite personal tragedies and health setbacks that he endured, he always adopted am optimistic attitude towards life and his mind remind lucid and his sense of humour intact right up until the end.

This is a picture of him on his wedding day with my grandmother, a young man from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, ready to take on the world.

I know he was ready to go and it was his time, but I sure am going to miss him.

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