John Anthony Breen Jr., 89, passed away peacefully at his home in New Hope in the early morning hours of Monday, February 5, 2024, with his daughter by his side.
John was born on Thursday, September 20, 1934, in Greenwood, VA, to John Anthony Breen, Sr. and Virgie Lillian McDaniel Breen. John’s grandfather Antonio Sansossio arrived at Ellis Island, New York in April 1924 from Lacedoina, Italy with both of his children. Shortly after their arrival he changed the family name to Breen. John Sr. left Massachusetts, hopping on a train with no clear plan or destination in mind. When the train stopped in Crozet, VA he jumped off and got a job at Chiles Peach Orchard picking peaches and made his home in Greenwood.
John Jr. served in the United States Navy as a gunner’s mate seaman on the USS Rankin AKA-103. He spent many nights in the lookout bucket on the ship, in freezing temperatures. He hated being cold, and kept Augusta Petroleum in business, year-round.
John had many careers and hobbies during his life and lived fearlessly. When he was younger, he delivered groceries on the weekends. On his delivery route he would wait at the railroad crossing for an oncoming train. (We are quite sure it was the same conductor.) As the train approached the intersection, John would “floor it,” and speed across the tracks in front of the train. This infuriated the train conductor, and he would sound the whistle. Thus, beginning John’s lifelong love of speed and thrill. During his junior year of high school, he drove a school bus part-time. (We do not believe he ever raced the train with a bus full of his peers, but we will never know.)
John loved horses and traveled the country to attend and compete in many team pinning shows. His favorite horse, Pat Me Dry aka Dukie, was a smart horse, and could find its way when John could not. He retired from GE/Genicom in Waynesboro in 1994, beloved by all who worked with him. He loved to play his guitar and sing, spending countless hours entertaining others.
John was an expert wood worker and could create or build anything. During his final months, John would often dream of building barns, painting horse trailers, and working in his garage on various projects. Many times, his family witnessed John moving his hands about as he meticulously crafted visions of his dreams. Our family will treasure all the pieces he has made over the years, and those of his dreams.
John beat prostate and skin cancer more times than we can count. One massive skin cancer on his right temple, left a huge void. John often joked “it’s a wonder my brains didn’t leak out.” John’s strong will and cheerful outlook moved him through life, with humor and grace. He never complained…not even once.
We could go on for days, many more stories demonstrating the love we have for this man. However, our space is limited. Just know he was a gentle soul, loved by many, and admired by all.
John is survived by his daughter Tracy Lynn Sansossio, two grandchildren Holly Michael Fisher and Adam John Michael Fisher, three great-grandchildren Montaya Lihn Fisher, Weston Anthony Rinker, and Kenneth Lane Fisher, and his “son” Danny Truxell-who could tell many tales of John Breen’s antics.
Honorary family members Kevin and Lora, Les and Debbie, John and Sue, Jimmy and Emily, and the entire Fretwell family.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his son Michael Wayne Anderson Breen, two brothers Eugene “Gene” Breen Sr. and Randolph “Randy” Breen, his border collie Tom, and his beloved horse Dukie.
The family wants to thank Hospice of the Shenandoah for their exceptional care, love, and support. Especially Bev, Ashley, Jim, and his favorite Susan. Deep gratitude to Betty, who spent countless hours watching him sleep, keeping him safe, well hydrated and fed, one banana at a time. Stefanie for the countless Vaseline gauzes and dressings over the years, to repair his many mishaps.
Military service will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 6 p.m., at Charlton & Groome Funeral Home and Crematory in Fishersville, VA. The family will receive friends following where we can share “Tales of John Breen” together, so “Let’s do it Thursday.”
Memorial contributions can be made to the HELP Health Equipment Loan Program, 3925 Churchville Ave. Churchville, VA 24421.
Share condolences and memories online with the family by visiting www.charltonandgroomefuneralhome.com.