RICHARD TEMPLE BREIDENBACH, Loving husband of Kathleen Hollan Breidenbach of Houston, caring father to Richard Vincent Breidenbach of Houston and Michael Stephen Breidenbach of Barrington, IL, stepfather of Andy Hollan of Sugarland. Father-In Law to Amy Breidenbach of Barrington, IL and Sonja Hollan of Sugarland, kind grandparent to four grandchildren: Kirsten Hollan of Sugarland, and Emily Breidenbach of Phoenix, AZ, Matthew Breidenbach of Austin, TX, and Bridget Breidenbach of Chicago, IL. Beloved uncle of Cathleen Zucco, Dayton, OH. Mr. Breidenbach was preceded into rest by his wife of 38 years, Jane Shanahan Breidenbach in 1979. Skilled Professional Engineer, civil servant and honourable soldier for his country, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 94. Mr. Breidenbach was a long-time member of St. Francis Episcopal Church and resident of Afton Village and Piney Point Village. |
Born, the 16th of January 1919 in Indiana Harbor, IN, Richard's father was adventurous, and the family moved from Indiana to Chicago, Los Angeles, and then settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Richard displayed an aptitude in math and science in high school and was enrolled in the college preparatory program. In March, 1936 Johnstown experienced its second great flood of the century and Richard was one of several young men who assembled at the downtown hospital to rescue patients on the lower floors from the quickly rising flood waters; he spent the night trapped at the hospital caring for the remaining patients.
Like millions of young men, Richard heard the call of duty and enlisted into the Army at the beginning of World War II. He then married his sweetheart Jane Shanahan, one of eight sisters, before transferring to basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma with the 45th Infantry (Thunderbird) Division, among the first U.S. units activated in the war. As a Staff Sargent he took part in intense fighting in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Monte Cassino. In later years Richard was elected the President of the 45th Infantry Division Association.
In 1944, Richard was severely wounded by enemy fire, and remained in a coma for many weeks, from which he awoke on a hospital train which carried him to convalesce in England. While on the hospital train he met the famous leading lady of Alfred Hitchcock's "39 Steps", Madeleine Carroll a Red Cross volunteer. Due to his inability to hold a pen, Ms Carroll offered to hand-write a letter back to his wife, Jane Breidenbach back in the states. Ms Carroll later recounted this meeting with Richard in an early 1960's interview with Life Magazine.
After the war, the Breidenbach' s attended Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana. The couple lived in a comfortable fishing cabin on beautiful Lake James. While owning and operating the local florist shop on the quaint town square, Richard graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering in 1948.
After college Mr. Breidenbach had three job offers: Standard Oil in Chicago, IL, the Arizona Highway Department, or the newly formed Texas Highway Department in Houston. They chose to come to Texas as that seemed like a far more romantic venture given the propensity of Texans to ride on horseback; the couple quickly learned that Houston was a fast-growing cosmopolitan city of 500,000 persons and as many cars.
As a Professional Engineer, Richard designed and built many of the city's most important highways, including the parts of the Gulf Freeway, and the entire original configurations of the I-10 Katy Freeway and Highway 290. His design priority was always on safety and innovation. Under his leadership the highway department developed the timesaving underpass left hand U-turn, which is unique to Houston. After 35 years of dedicated service, Richard retired from the Highway Department in 1982. He was a Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and active in the Houston chapter.
After passing of his first wife Jane Breidenbach in 1979, Richard married Kathleen Hollan in 1980. The two built a new life and travelled to the four corners of the world, celebrating many happy moments with friends over the past 33 years. Theirs was a perfect match which balanced personalities, talents and mutual support. Richard will be greatly missed by Kathleen.
Mr. Breidenbach' s family remember him as a loving father, who organized diverse vacation trips to Mexico, District of Columbia, Canada, California, New Mexico and many fishing and camping excursions throughout Texas. The family would also like to express its gratitude to the staff of Treemont Nursing Center, the Herman Memorial Hospital, and especially to Ms Cathy Swan at New Century Hospice Care.
The memorial service is to be conducted at two o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 23rd of October 2013, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston, where the Rev. John Onstott is to officiate.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions in Mr. Breidenbach's memory may be directed to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th floor, New York, NY 10001.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Oct. 20, 2013