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11 October, 2021

Tribute to Don Breeze

"A good citizen." Many would agree with the phrase Jim Breeze thought was the best to sum up his cousin Donald Leslie Breeze during his eulogy at Don’s funeral, concluding a tribute that, like the one given by Don’s son Ross, shared some insightful, heartwarming and humorous descriptions and anecdotes about one of Clifton’s finest.

Don Breeze (centre), receiving a Diligent and Ethical Service Medal and 1st Clasp from the then Assistant Minister for Emergency Volunteers Ted Malone (left) and QFES Commisioner Lee Johnson (right).

Don was born on 30 June 1932, the fourth child of Celia and Robert Breeze.

His siblings are Sylvia, Mervyn Stanley and Mavis.

His ancestors settled on farming land at Nobby in the early 1890s and many descendants still live there.

Don was very unfortunate to lose both his parents at a young age, something that thankfully his own children did not have to experience.

His father died from electrocution while working under a car when Don was only 18 months old.

Don lost his mother to cancer at the age of 23, shortly before he married Arleen, his wife of over 60 years, on 29 October 1955.    

Ross shared a story on how his parents met:

“Apparently, Mavis, Dad’s sister, was trying to matchmake and took Mum home to meet Don,” Ross said.

“Don came to the door reading a western comic and chewing on a green apple.

“When Mavis introduced him, he took a bite of his apple and gave a grunt.

“Arleen was not impressed and therefore avoided him for a long time.”

Together, Don and Arleen had four children, Stephen, Sharon, Charmaine and Ross, who have had seven grandchildren and four-great grandchildren.

Ross said Don worked for Clifton Shire Council for over 30 years, doing everything from collecting rubbish to digging graves.

“I don’t think there would be a household in Clifton that Dad didn’t help out with some repair at some stage or another and the payment was always the same: I will catch up with you one day,” he said.

In addition to his work, Don had no shortage of roles at numerous community organisations around Clifton.

He was involved in the Clifton Voluntary Fire Brigade, Clifton State Emergency Service, Clifton Committee on Aged, Neighbourhood Watch, Jaycees and Clifton Meals on Wheels.

Jim was not short of phrases and praises to share about Don.

“Politically opinionated, head-strong, physically strong, dangerous when cornered, incredibly loyal, hard-working, unfazed by even the worst or most unpleasant chore, generous of time and spirit and a completely committed man to his community,” he said.

Jim said Don was a genuinely funny man who was unpredictable and unique: “When he was really amused, the sound of his hearty laugh was unforgettable,” he said.

“At a Nobby school jubilee, Don was selling tickets, of course, and would gruffly say to any young bloke, ‘See That?’ while making a fist in their face. 

“When they said they had, he would say ‘Good, because you won’t see it next time!’ and then laugh his ha-ha laugh. I will miss him.”

Ross said Don’s favourite pastimes were undoubtedly boating, fishing and crabbing.

“I remember one time we were going for a camp for a week or so and he said he would get the food and I would handle the bait and fishing gear,” Ross said.

“So when we arrived and got settled I started thinking about food only to learn that Dad had bought about 4kgs of steak and sausages, 6 loaves of bread and a 4 litre bottle of tomato sauce. That was it for the week.”

Ross also recalled that Don liked to collect bits and pieces from his days collecting rubbish for the shire.

“He had found this trailer stub axle which must have been in his shed for 20 years,” Ross said.

“Mum decided one day when I think Dad wasn’t around that she would have a little clean up and the stub axle was taken to the dump.

“And yep, you guessed it, on one of his next trips the old boy found it thinking at long last he has now two stub axles. 

“Can you imagine his disappointment when he figured out what happened.”

Jim said Don had survived illnesses and operations that would have killed another man ten times over.

“It seemed he was going to be immortal,” Jim said.

“Perhaps the devil didn’t want him and God wouldn’t take him. 

“Wherever he goes it’s a good bet he is on the committee.”

Ross finished off his eulogy with a touching tribute.

“Dad was a good man, a caring man, a brave man. He was a legend to us and he will be missed.”

Donald Breeze passed away on Tuesday 21 September 2021.

His funeral was held at the Clifton Senior Citizens Centre on Friday 24 September, where a large crowd gathered to pay their respects.

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