William James Breen

Pages 360-361 - William James Breen is one of the substantial capitalist and representative men of affairs in the city of Grand Rapids, where he is president of the Breen & Halladay Fuel Company; vice-president of the Home State Bank for Savings; president of the H.M.O. Lumber Company, of which he was one of the organizers; president of the City Coal & Coke Company, in the organization of which he was prominently associated, and a director of the Burton Heights Fuel & Building Material Company. He was a leader in the orgainzation of the Grand Rapids Gravel Company, of which he is the president, and in Osceola county, he is the president of the Dighton Land Company. His progressive activities have also been extended into the state of Florida, being president of both the Breen Realty Company and the Michigan Land Company as well as a director of the Home Finance Association. In addition to these important capitalistic and business alliances, Mr Breen is also a valued member of the directorage of the Grand Rapids Association of Commerce, and is a director also of the Association of the Blind at Grand Rapids of which he is a supporter. Mr Breen is one of the splendidly loyal and progressive citizens of Grand Rapids, and has here wielded large influence in the advancing of enterprises and measures that have contributed to the general well being of the community. He has secured a place in popular esteem, and is admired for the large success that he has gained through his own ability and well directed efforts. He is affiliated with both York and Scottish Rite bodies of the Masonic fraternity, as well as its Mystic Shrine and the order of the Eastern Star, besides which he is a life member of the Masonic Country Club of Grand Rapids. His political allegiance is given to the Republican party, and he attends and supports the first Methodist Episcopal Church, of which his wife is an active member. Mr Breen was born on a farm in Durham county, Province of Ontario, Canada, January 29, 1863, and is the son of Robert and Esther (Virtue) Breen, who were born in Ireland, of Irish and Scotch lineage, respectively, and who came to Canada almost immediately after thier marriage, Robert Breen having become a prosperous farmer in Huron County, Ontario, and in the Province he passed the remainder of his earnest and worthy life. His wife, having passed her ninety-second anniversary, is spending the winters with her son William in Florida. William J Breen was reared to the sturdy discipline of the home farm and his early educational advantages were limited to irregular attendance in a rural school some distance from the family home. When he was about fourteen years of age he found employment at farm work, and received eleven dollars a month for his services. In his native province he continued his assocation with farm enterprise until he was twenty-one years of age, when, in 1884, he came to Michigan and found employment on a farm near Reed City, Osceola county. Later he engaged independently in business as a jobber in tan bark, after which he was employed two years by the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway. In 1887 Mr Breen engaged in the fuel business in Grand Rapids, and later he expanded his business to include lumber. He continued operations in an individual way until 1892, when he organized the Breen & Halladay Fuel Company, of which he has since continued to be the executive head, his administration as president of this company having now covered a period of twenty years. In 1925 Mr Breen donated to the city of Grand Rapids on hundred acres for a park to be known as Breen Park. Even as he has been in the most significant sense the architect of his own fortunes -- and his has been large and worthily won success-- so has his mental ken been widened by the effective education of self-discipline and broad and varied experience in connection with the practical affairs of life. Mr Breen has ordered his course along the line of inviolable integrity, and has thus merited the popular confidence and good will that are uniformly accorded to him. He has three sons; James V., William S. and Waldo J. The second marriage of Mr Breen was with Miss Evalene Halladay, of Grand Rapids, and she presides graciously over their attractive home in this city and their winter home in Florida. Mr and Mrs Breen are the parents of two daughters Martha Elizabeth, and Mary Grace, five and four years of age, respectively.

Transcriber: Terry Start
Created: 4 March 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/breenwj.html