Anna Elaine Breese passed away peacefully on March 4, 2015. She was 89.
On September 25, 1925, a two-pound baby girl was born in Salisbury, Mass., the only child of John and Margaret Higgins. She was a small town girl of Irish decent and her parents encouraged her independent spirit.
Elaine received a degree in biology from Boston University, which took her to Walter Reed Research Hospital in Maryland where she met her future husband, Sydney S. Breese. Eventually they settled on the North Fork where they raised their three children: Jack, Connie, and Peter.
Elaine was politically active and community minded. She volunteered her time on campaign committees and aiding Vista volunteers. She traveled south in the ‘60s and was struck by the difference in how black and white people were treated. The memory of that inequality and injustice fueled Elaine’s efforts to help local migrant workers.
Elaine was one of the founders of CAST (Community Action Southold Town). She supported women’s causes along with her efforts at the Southold Free Library, North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, hospice and the Unitarian Universalist church.
For five years she took on the career of teaching English to the fifth and sixth grades at the Oysterponds Elementary School in Orient. She loved books and poetry and passed along this love to those lucky students who continue to remember her with great affection.
Elaine and Syd valued travel as an educational experience and took their children on many trips. They continued their journeys after the children moved on to college and careers. She was continually curious about life, religion, relationships and education. She was masterful at word games and loved lively conversations.
While Syd was teaching at University of Virginia Medical School after retiring from Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory, Elaine joined an organization in Charlottesville, Va. addressing women’s issues and providing counseling.
For all of her life, even after she became bed-bound and blind, Elaine was the “go-to person” for anyone needing good, solid, advice as she had the perceptive ability to see matters clearly and get to the heart of the matter. Those close to her appreciated her sharp mind and quick wit. Elaine cherished her enduring friendships and her family.
The Breese family would like to thank the staff of The Shores at Peconic Landing for Elaine’s care during her illness and disability. They also thank Tiny Edwards for her support and assistance.
Predeceased by her husband Sydney, she leaves behind her three children and their families, Jack Breese of Seattle and Southold, his wife Emily and their daughters Erica and Tracey; Constance Breese and her husband John Pavlik and their son Nolan; and Peter Breese and his children Cyrus, Susa and Stella.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 14, at First Universalist Church in Southold. Internment will take place at a later date at Willow Hill Cemetery in Southold.
Memorial donations can be sent to CAST PO Box 159, Greenport, NY 11944.
Arrangements were entrusted to DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes.
This is a paid notice.