Ed was born to a brilliant mathematician and an accomplished jazz pianist 4 months before the stock market crash of 1929. He grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, which was at that time, a largely Irish section of Queens, New York. He spent his summers on Long Island with his grandmother, swimming and fishing in the surf. He attended Don Bosco Prep where he was a standout in track and football. He began his undergraduate work at Fordham where he continued to run track and play football. He was coached there by legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His education was interrupted by the Korean Conflict. He enlisted in the Air Force and was deployed to Greenland where he was an air traffic controller. His time in the service was a source of immense pride and fond memories later in his life. He continued his education at the City College of New York and graduated with a BA in education. He proudly began his career in education as a teacher in the NYC public schools. Several years later he found his true gift: special education. He married his first wife, Lydia, adopted her son, Brian William Breen, and they had 2 more children; a son, James Francis (Jamie) and a daughter, Alison Lydia. They moved to New Mexico where Ed taught Special Education on the Indian Reservation at Santo Domingo. He received his Masters Degree in Special Education from the University of New Mexico. He then moved to Denver where he began his doctoral program.
He moved to Tulsa in the late ‘60’s to run the Special Education Teacher Development Program at the University of Tulsa. He fulfilled a lifelong dream while he was in Tulsa, learning to fly and obtaining his pilot’s license. It was at TU that he met the love of his life, Betsy Jo. They married in 1969. They began their family in 1971 when they had a daughter, Pamela Layne. They moved to Illinois in 1971 where he taught at Southern Illinois and then at Bradley University. He was recruited by the Home Insurance Company and he went to work developing a program for the long term care of head trauma patients. He later moved his family to Chicago and Kemper Insurance where he developed a similar program. In 1981 the Breen’s, missing Oklahoma, decided to look for work back “home”. They found positions at a very small arts and crafts program, 2 afternoons a week, called S.W.A.P. Ed eagerly took the job as the director and spent the next 32 years building that little part time craft program into the multi faceted Incor. During his years here, in Muskogee, he was active in the Trinity 502 Masonic Lodge, Master three times, and the Noon Lions Club, president twice, and is a lifetime member of both. He was active in Special Olympics in Oklahoma, early and late; beginning in the late 60’s and jumped right back into it as soon as he came back home. He was particularly proud of his grandchildren; he never missed a band performance, a parade, a Veterans Day assembly. He was a joyful man, always a smile and an encouraging word when a person needed it most. He led an incredible and fascinating life and had a story for every occasion, never the same story twice. If you had the honor and pleasure of knowing him you were better for it. He is survived by his true love, Betsy; two sons, Brian and Jamie; a daughter, Pammy; granddaughters, Mary Elizabeth, Andrea, Janny and Megan; and his best buddy, grandson, Aidan.
Services for Edward will be held at 11:00 A.M. Thursday, June 27, 2013 at Lescher-Millsap Funeral Home Chapel in Muskogee, OK, with Ken Sterling officiating. Burial will be in Fort Gibson National Cemetery.