Longtime journalist Tom Breen, who headed Florida Today’s Space Team coverage from 2000 to 2002, died suddenly at his home June 22 in Indian Harbor Beach , Fla. of cardiac arrest. He was 65.
Breen’s journalism career began with weeklies in his native Massachusetts, which eventually took him to Washington, D.C. where he worked as the night city editor at The Washington Star, and then U.S. News & World Report. He moved out West to work first as the city editor of the Palo Alto (Calif.) Tribune and later as an assistant sports editor at the Arizona Republic. In 1982, he moved back East to become the first city editor of The Washington Times, where he served for seven years as sports editor, movie critic and foreign correspondent, covering the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in the 1980s. Upon his return, he was invited to the Cosmos Club in Washington to talk about his two-year experience.
Breen later worked for several newsletters in the D.C. area, had a brief stint as the executive editor of a chain of weeklies in Richmond, Va., then learned the defense and space industries from the ground up. Prior to Florida Today, where he returned briefly as a feature writer, Tom worked as editor of Air Force Times for three years.
In 2005, Breen’s insatiable curiosity about life led him back to school to pursue a late-in-life master’s degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and then a doctorate in liberal studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which he was still pursuing at the time of his death. For the past five years, he taught as an adjunct professor of humanities at Brevard Community College on both the Palm Bay and Melbourne campuses. He also recently became a member of the Brevard County (Fla.) Historic Commission.
He is survived by his wife, Susan Jenks Breen; son, Jeb of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla. and Washington, D.C.; brother, Tony of Las Vegas, Nev.; and father, Thomas J. Breen Sr., a former paratrooper in World War II who lives in Groton, Mass. A memorial was held June 30 at the Eau Gallie Yacht Club in Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.