BREESE, Gretchen A resident of Jamaica Plain MA, died on the 7th of April 2016, from complications related to ovarian cancer. She died at home, surrounded by friends and family. She is survived by her husband Tom Joaquin, her mother Terry Berman, her step-children Kendra PelaJoaquin, Lucas Joaquin, Jessica Joaquin, Samuel Joaquin and Emma Joaquin. Gretchen was a teacher, sculptor, philosopher, and art theorist. Her areas of academic interest were diverse and included Buddhist and feminist philosophy, Neoplatonism and theological aesthetics. Her sculpture appeared in numerous solo and group shows on both coasts. She was a 1986 NEA grant recipient for her work in architectural theory. Gretchen's education was similarly broad. She earned her Bachelors degree in Art at University of California's College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara in 1976, and then her MFA in sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design in 1984. In 1987 she went on to earn a Masters in Environmental Design in architectural theory at Yale's School of Architecture, where she was awarded a full fellowship to pursue her studies. At Yale she was also awarded a fellowship to pursue her Ph.D. in Religious studies, for which she completed the coursework before moving on to teach. Gretchen taught philosophy at Ripon College from 1994 until 1998. She joined the faculty at the New England Conservatory 1998, and taught philosophy, sculpture and film studies there. Gretchen believed that learning philosophy changes lives, and that belief undergirded every class she taught. She dedicated herself to teaching each of her students to think critically and to live humanely. Regretfully, Gretchen decided to retire in 2013 due to the debilitating effects of cancer and its treatment. But she rejected the idea that her cancer was an enemy and her illness a war. She saw her disease as a morally neutral result of natural processes and faced it with the same burning curiosity that motivated her throughout her life. She learned everything she could about its biochemistry and genetic basis, followed the research underlying new therapies and became an active part of the Dana Farber team that determined her course of treatment. Gretchen lived her life in a constant pursuit of knowledge, and her enthusiastic and promiscuous curiosity led to strong connections with a wide community of friends who supported her in return quite literally until the morning she died. A memorial service celebrating Gretchen Breese's life will be held on Saturday, April 16, 3:30 pm at the Parish Hall of Theodore Parker Church 1859 Centre St. West Roxbury, MA. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Ovarian Cancer Research, Medical Gynecologic Oncology Program (Ursula Matulonis, MD, Medical Director), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Published in Boston Globe from Apr. 13 to Apr. 14, 2016.