Bob Breckenridge died on February 20, 2007, following a heart attack. He had suffered a debilitating stroke eighteen years previously that had forced him to give up his medical practice. However, Bob’s wife of forty-seven years, Judy, told me that during that long period of incapacity, he remained his cheerful self and never lost his positive and upbeat outlook on life.
Bob arrived at Amherst along with five other freshmen from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH. He was a good looking and popular member of the Class of 1951, witty and friendly and known for affectionately kidding other fellows. It was he who assigned nicknames to almost every one of us in his delegation at Deke, as well as to other friends in our Class. We don’t answer to those nicknames anymore, but I’m sure we all remember whom Bob tagged as Mole, Glomp, Bird, Snake, Weary, Tiger, Trees and Dob, among others. In turn, I believe it was John Martin who gave him the sobriquet “Brow” in recognition of his high forehead above his handsome features. Bob and I roomed together for two years and were very close friends. I’ll always be grateful for his thoughtfulness in frequently visiting my mother and dad when he was doing his medical internship in Cleveland and I was out at sea in the navy. Those visits meant a lot to my folks.
After graduating from Amherst, Bob went to Western Reserve University (now called Case WRU) medical school in Cleveland and earned his MD there. (I have a vivid recollection of visiting him at the anatomy lab while I was attending the nearby law school.) Following a stint in the Medical Corps of the US Navy, he returned to Cleveland for his residency at University Hospitals, specializing in hematology. A few years later, he was recruited to become a professor at the Univ. of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he became a prominent expert in hematology and was widely published.
In 1979 Bob entered private practice in internal medicine and hematology, where he was assisted by Judy. They worked together until he had his stroke ten years later. Judy told me how the ever-colorful Brow not only used to drive to work on his Harley Davidson motorcycle but also made house calls on the bike.
Bob was an avid fly fisherman and hunter, and he skied on numerous mountains in the United States and Canada. He also had a strong interest in his Scottish heritage. The cover of his memorial service program shows him in a delightful pose wearing a kilt. Judy said the girls arranged a super send off celebration for Bob, complete with a piper and many daddy stories.
He participated in Amherst alumni activities for several years and attended the famous dedication of the Robert Frost Library at which John Kennedy spoke. Bob had many friends in Rochester. His wonderful family, to whom he was deeply devoted, consisted of Judy; his three daughters, Jennifer, Amy, and Sara; his three sons-in-law; and four grandchildren.
I and all his Amherst friends have many great memories of Bob, and we send our deep sympathy to Judy and her family.
—David C. Fulton ’51