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Donald Dwight Breed

December 4, 2016
Donald Dwight Breed
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Obituary for Donald Dwight Breed

Providence:
Donald Dwight Breed died unexpectedly at his home in Providence, RI, on Sunday, December 4. His wife of 32 years, Betsy Breed, was by his side at the time of his death. The cause is uncertain, but was most likely heart failure.

He was born in Freeport, Illinois, on December 12, 1934, the son of Donald Levant and Theodosia (Park) Breed. He enjoyed a close relationship with his sister, Sylvia, who was 12 years his elder. His father published the Freeport Journal Standard, and he was raised in the newspaper business.

Donald, known as Donny, completed high school in Freeport and then traveled east to attend Harvard University. Following his graduation he enrolled in the Navy; he served as an officer for three years and was stationed in Japan. He then returned to Freeport to work for the Journal Standard.

Along the way he met and married his first wife, Antoinette (Cantore) Breed. Their marriage ended in divorce, but produced two children, Sabrina and Tony.

In 1966 he moved to Rhode Island to work for the Providence Journal, where he made his career. In his thirty years at the Journal he covered many areas. He began on the night copy desk, then was assigned to produce the daily financial section, and later wrote about immigration, real estate, and food before his retirement in 1996. He was perhaps best known for his weekly column, “Wine,” which ran for more than twenty years. He continued writing until the end of his life, and one of his book reviews ran in the Journal on the day of his death.

In 1984 he married Betsy (Adams) Breed in a ceremony at Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, having been introduced by the owner, Lolly Mitchell, Betsy’s cousin. They left the ceremony by hot-air balloon. In the three-plus decades of their marriage they spent their springs and falls in Rhode Island, their winters in Key West, Florida, and their summers in Roaring Brook, in Northern Michigan, where Donny had summered as a child. They were happy and comfortable together.

Donny came from a family of artists and writers, and his life was shaped by an appreciation for ideas and beauty. He watched sunsets over downtown from his Providence home and the light in the trees from his tower in Roaring Brook. He was a classical music enthusiast, traveling regularly to hear the Boston Symphony, writing program notes for the Impromptu Concerts in Key West, and serving on the Board of the Rhode Island Chamber Music Concerts. His letters and emails would turn the mundane details of a road trip into an entertaining narrative, and he was thoughtful in times of turbulence. He was an extraordinary cook, creating rich meals from simple ingredients for family and friends. He cooked meat and fish over a wood fire, a lost art. His motto was “Never have a bad meal!” He was robust and a great dancer. Throughout his life he favored daily vigorous exercise, first running, then swimming as he grew older. He especially loved swimming in the clear, cold waters of Lake Michigan. He valued simplicity, routine, kindness and conservation. He trod lightly on the earth.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) Adams Breed; his children, Sabrina Theodosia Breed of New York City and Donald Anthony (Tony) Breed of Chicago; and his grandson, Alex Anthony Breed.

A memorial service is planned in Providence for the spring.

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