Robert Harlin Breeden

Birth Date: 
Friday, August 3, 1934
Date of Passing: 
Sunday, January 20, 2019

WOOSTER - Bob Breeden passed away January 20th, 2019 in the company of his loving family at Hospice in Wooster.

Bob Breeden was born August 3rd, 1934 to Ernest Luther Breeden and Helen Mathilde Kirk Breeden near the family farm on Laurel Brook Road in Fallston, Maryland.  There, Bob experienced life with the family values of strength, stability, striving and efficiency of a farm. Quick of mind, Bob knew young that he would improve on the farm equipment of the day. Cleverly bouncing their tractor’s weak hydraulic loader bucket in order to lift heavy loads, Bob contemplated better ways. At Youth’s Benefit 2-room School after completing his required school work, Bob read encyclopedias and learned all he could about hydraulics.

At age 17, on a blind date, Bob met the love of his life.  Leslie Eleanor Jones, then aged 15, of Monkton, Maryland arrived to join him sitting on The Rocks, a swimming hole on the Gunpowder River which flows through the Kirk/Breeden farm. Just weeks later, Bob headed off for his first year at The University of Virginia, already enjoying Leslie’s moral support which continued the rest of his life. With Bob at UVA and Leslie still in Maryland, they eagerly awaited each other’s weekly letters.  After their June 9, 1956 wedding, Leslie left Mary Baldwin College to support Bob as he completed his degree.  His senior year he lived at 53 West Lawn in sight of Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda. With Leslie’s unyielding support and with his demanding penchant for detail and tenacious self-funding, he graduated from The University of Virginia with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1957.  Upon graduation, with a national shortage of new engineers, Bob received 19 job offers after 21 interviews.  Bob was always grateful for the impact UVA had on all aspects of his life. Yet always cautious, once working, he also attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore at night earning his Physics degree “So if engineering work didn’t pan out, I could teach”.

While Bob was serving his ROTC commitment as 1st Lieutenant in the US Army in Germany, Bob and Leslie delighted in traveling every weekend to Austria, France, Italy, or Bavaria in their new convertible VW Bug. One winter, with all possible roads through the Alps snowed shut, Bob and Leslie sat together in the Bug, holding a foot on the brake while parked unchained upon a flat railcar. The locomotive ahead pushed aside snowdrifts, climbing in the mountains and through tunnels into Italy. Upon returning stateside, Bob sought out companies where his creative engineering acumen and rigid integrity regarding quality would best be utilized, moving his growing family from Maryland to Iowa, then to Michigan where he was Manager of Engineering Product Planning & Control for Sperry Vickers.

In Michigan, Bob and Leslie cherished their home, a historic farmhouse, while raising their children, Bob and Barb. Bob’s spare time was always spent working with his son to renovate what would become a refined and beautiful home, imparting productive values that serve his children well to this day. Bob served many terms as Senior Warden of Grace Episcopal Church, Lapeer Michigan, leading to ensure a safe harbor and community for his family there. Once Barb was in college, Bob and Leslie moved to Wooster, where Bob was Vice President of Engineering at Rexroth.  Wooster was their beloved home for 36 years. Bob appreciated the people of Wooster and considered himself fortunate to call Wooster his home.

Bob fulfilled his boyhood dream that he would design and build much better hydraulic equipment. Bob’s keen awareness and focused effort led to many innovations in hydraulic controls, pumps and motors for ships, heavy construction equipment, trucks, and school buses. Bob added the immense power that is common today, yet so lacking in the equipment of his youth.  Moreover, before it was fashionable, he incorporated ways to lessen stress in equipment, to create light responsive control “feel” for the operator, and to save fuel. At age 61, Bob went into business on his own. He teamed with a Pennsylvania company for manufacture of his designs. Bob’s crowning achievement was his development and production of the fuel injection system for the Ford Powerstroke diesel.

Bob was involved with the Episcopal and Anglican Churches of Wooster and was a member of Rotary. He enjoyed golf and in retirement allowed himself the pleasure of a travel trailer, which he and Leslie towed as far away as Nova Scotia, Yosemite, British Columbia and Colorado. Bob and Leslie annually traveled with college friend couples from their University of Virginia days on trips which included floating the Danube and the Rhine, taking in the fiords of Norway, bungee jumping in New Zealand and traveling across Australia. Bob’s final trip cavorting with these same friends was at a UVA home football game this past September.

Bob always expected a lot of others and even more of himself, especially when it came to hard work and integrity.  His family would have liked to have more time with him.  But they’re glad he fit so much into his 84 years. He joined his son Bob on adventures, bicycling from Loudonville, OH to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1980, and later flying in a Super Cub over peaks and valleys of Alaska. He visited his daughter Barb in Cameroon when she was serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Always resourceful, Bob was known to wear his 60 year old Army combat boots with no remaining tread to shovel snow. Heat didn’t deter him either; several years ago on a 90+ degree day, he put himself at risk for a mother and baby raccoons.  He went up on the roof to measure for a chimney cap after the brood had moved out, and before the next brood moved in.  He learned that you should avoid burning your bottom when scooting back down the roof.

He gave his family much, including the awareness that they’ve been very fortunate, and that it’s good to internally foster and outwardly express thankfulness.  Bob passed on after a severe blood infection in December that damaged his heart valves.  Fortunately, as recently as October, he was able to push a lawn mower for hours, an outdoor project he loved to do because, after all, “If you want something done right, you better do it yourself”.  Bob is preceded in death by his older brother (Ernest) Kirk.  Bob’s survivors include his wife of 62 years Leslie Jones Breeden, son Bob Breeden of Alaska, daughter Barbara Breeden-Schmenk with David Schmenk of Dayton, and grandchildren: Brittany Breeden, a future Nurse Midwife, with husband Chris Granger; Bobby Breeden, a Delta Airlines pilot; and John David Schmenk age 14 and Helen Marie Schmenk age 11.

Calling Hours will be held from 3 to 5 pm Saturday, January 26th at the McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster. Then at 5:30 pm, a Funeral Service will be held at the Wooster Anglican Church at 445 N. Bever St with Supper to follow.

Internment of ashes will be at St James Episcopal Church Cemetery, Monkton, Maryland at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Wooster Rotary.

Online condolences may be left for the family at:



Memorial Contributions: 

Wooster Rotary


Friends will be received on Saturday, January 26, 2019 from 3-5:00 p.m. at the funeral home


At 5:30 p.m., a funeral service will be held at the Wooster Anglican Church at 445 N. Bever St. with a Supper to follow.


Leslie, so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. We certainly are witnesses to his hard work and dedication to your beautiful home and yard. We always enjoyed talking to Bob and will miss him. May you and your family find peace and comfort in all your wonderful memories!

It is with sincerity that I offer my deepest of sympathy. I pray that you find comfort in two of the promises found in the Holy writings: "and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus." -Phil. 4:7
Also, what does the future hold for your beloved? "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out..." - John 5:28,29
For more comfort please visit:

Wonderful obituary...even after all these years we learned a lot. We hope to join you at internment of Bob ashes in Monkton.

God Bless, Larry & Carol

I am really going to miss my wonderful neighbor. I will always cherish our great conversation's as the 2 of us were taking breaks from our yard work.It was nice of you to share a lot of You and Leslie's travels/adventures together with me. Rest in Peace Bob

Leslie, I'm so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. After reading Bob's obituary, I was so impressed with his exemplary life and with the loving relationship you both had for 62 years. I am sure this was the foundation for the many wonderful contributions you and Bob made to the Wooster community, including our good fortune of having you teach Sarah and Andrew in the first grade at Layton school. Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss.

It was with deep sorrow that Anne and I learned of Bob's passing. We miss the people we met while living in Wooster and you and Bob were two of the best neighbors. Bob was always an inspiration as an avid mower, so it does not surprise us that he was still mowing this last fall. Bob certainly left his mark on the world and those who got to meet him. Anne and I will keep you and your family in our prayers and we hope you find comfort in the Peace of Christ.

God Bless,

Mike, Anne, Mitchell, Emily and Luke Henkle

What a fantastic, noble and kind man. I am so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. I will forever remember his kind nature and inviting smile. For background .... I came to know the Breedens during my formulative years and not only did we go to the same church, but they were neighbors directly behind us. For this I have to both apologize and thank you, Leslie. I apologize because I know (poor Bob) had to have been irritated by the condition of our yard. Let's just say I could have done a better job keeping the yard a little more manicured. Bob never said a word ... he simply smiled and waved as we passed each other while mowing. Kind and gentle. We would periodically meet at the fence to chat and catch up and he was always so pleasant and patient with me as a teenager. He was and always will be, in my mind, the epitome of class and kindness. Bob Breeden meant a lot to me and I am so sorry to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with Leslie, Bob and Barbara. XOXO

We were grateful to have had the opportunity of meeting Bob and his lovely wife Leslie this past summer. I can only imagine how devastating a blow the loss of Bob Sr. will be to the Breeden family. Our most sincere condolences from our hearts to yours.

Phil and Heather in Alaska

I am so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. But what a wonderful life you have had together

Leslie and Family: We were saddened to hear and read the awful news about Bob--the most pleasant, easy-going, and nice man at Health Point! His life was obviously wonderful, which we hope will help you through this sad time. Our deepest sympathies to you all.

I am sadden for your lost. As a past coworker of Bob in Wooster Ohio. My condolences from my family to your yours.

I am so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. Please accept my condolences for your family. I am sure he will be greatly missed. God bless you at this sad time.

What a bittersweet way to better understand my new friend, Bob Breeden. Teaming up with your mom to create the conditions for someone like you to flourish, is an inspirational legacy. I wished our paths would have crossed long enough ago that I could have met your dad.

Having met young Bob this past summer, we feel we have a great new friend.
We send our sincere sympathy to the Breeden family.

I can attest to Bob's drive for perfection in his work. As a young engineer, he pushed and mentored, pulled and challenged me. I always appreciated Bob's respect for "old farmers", especially as he expressed that to my dad when he visited me at work. I pray God's peace to you, his family, as you recall many good memories of life with Bob.

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