Dr. Kermit Townsend Breen, 90, of Hendersonville died on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at his home. He was born April 9, 1928 in Chicago, IL, the son of the late Robert and Ethel Townsend Breen. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three wives: Jacqueline Reichman Breen, Peggy Walker Breen, and Ar…read more
Dr. Kermit Townsend Breen, 90, of Hendersonville died on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at his home. He was born April 9, 1928 in Chicago, IL, the son of the late Robert and Ethel Townsend Breen. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three wives: Jacqueline Reichman Breen, Peggy Walker Breen, and Arlita Lowry Entrekin Breen; and son Barton Breen.
He was formerly of St. Simons Island and Brunswick, GA; Cookeville, TN; Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, FL; and Magnolia, AR. He studied music, voice, conducting and composition at several institutions including the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Following tours of duty with the army during World War II and the Korean War, he received bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a Doctorate from Florida State University.
During his long career in music, Kermit served on the faculty of South Arkansas University, sang as leading tenor in the Repertory Opera Company, an arm of the Shreveport Symphony Society, and helped found and conduct the South Arkansas Symphony. At Florida State University, he served on the faculty in voice and opera and after completing his Doctorate was on the faculty of Tennessee Tech University before returning to Florida where he founded and became Artistic Director and Resident Conductor of the Pensacola Opera and later of the Okaloosa Symphony. Following a brief retirement and relocation to St. Simons Island, GA, he served as Conductor of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia during which period the Coastal Symphony premiered his symphony “Love and Loss” which was nominated by the orchestra for a Pulitzer prize. Later he briefly directed the New Renaissance Singers of St. Simons Island, GA. After relocating to Hendersonville in 2009, Kermit sang with several groups and became involved with the Arts Council of Henderson County, serving as an active and later “Emeritus” member of its Board of Directors. In addition to music, Kermit’s life-long interests included woodworking and sailing.
He is survived by three daughters: Barbara Breen of Grinnell, IA, Heather Breen McKelvey of Covington, GA, and Hilary Breen Hockett of Brunswick, GA; five grandsons; and many great grandchildren. He is also survived by his life partner Jean Kuehl Tuech of Hendersonville.
Memorial services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Dr. Breen’s memory be directed to the Arts Council of Henderson County, P O Box 767, Hendersonville, NC 28793, Four Seasons Compassion for Life Foundation, 221 N Main St. Hendersonville, NC 28792, or a charity of the donor’s choice.