Charles Joseph Breslin Jr. was born Monday, Aug.17, 1942, to Jessie and Charles Joseph Breslin Sr. in Los Angeles, California. He passed away peacefully in the loving care of his family on New Year’s Day, 2021, in his home in Lakeside, California. He is preceded in death by his son Sean, and his wife of 58 years, Janis. He is also preceded in death by his mother Jessie (1986) and his father Charles Sr. (1995), and his younger sister Mary (2016). We all grew up in the valley. It is so beautiful there. We try to get back every year – 2020 was an odd year by any measure, and we were not able to travel to our normal vacation spots. My last trip was in 2019 for the 80th North Cascades Smokejumper Base reunion and we’re looking forward to another trip next summer. Our parents and sister are buried at the Beaver Creek cemetery – and is always on our list of stops.
Charles grew up with his parents and older sister, Colleen and younger sister Mary in Los Angeles until the age of 7, when the family moved to Twisp, Washington, in the Methow Valley in the eastern foothills of the Cascades mountains just south of the Canadian border. They arrived in the valley during the spring run-off of 1948 with many bridges across the Methow River washed out by floods.
The family called him “CJ,” short for Charles Joseph, but in the first grade there were three “Charles,” so they each chose a name to keep them straight. He chose “Joe,” using his middle name and most people from then on just called him Joe.
Joe graduated from Twisp High School in 1960, having played football for the “Yellowjackets.” His passion was cars — and he loved building them, working on them, and driving them. He used to joke that he could build a car from some paper clips and baling wire! He was active in Boy Scouts and served as an altar boy at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church.
After graduating he attended Spokane Community College and joined the U.S. Navy in April 1962 just after the beginning of the Vietnam war. He noticed a beautiful, athletic young lady at Pattison’s Rollercade in Spokane and told a buddy — “I’m going to marry that girl…” to which his friend responded — “Well, maybe you should meet her first!” He did… Janis Lynn Allyson and Joe Breslin were married Sept. 29, 1962, just a few months after Joe finished Navy recruit training in San Diego.
Joe’s career in the Navy included 14 years in the enlisted ranks and six years as an officer, having worked his way up from Seaman Recruit, to Chief Warrant Officer 3. He served on three ships including the Destroyer USS John R. Craig, for which he received a citation, “For outstanding performance while in direct combat with the enemy on three different occasions during the period 7 Nov. to 20 Nov. 1966” in the waters off North Vietnam. He also served on the USS Dubuque during the evacuation of Vietnam and later on the USS Fort Fisher. After seven tours in the Vietnam theater in 17 years of sea duty, Joe retired with 20 years of extraordinary naval service on April 1, 1982. He earned the Navy Commendation Ribbon; Navy Achievement Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Sea Service Medal with three Silver and three Bronze stars; Battle Efficiency Ribbon; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Gallantry Cross Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal, among others.
Joe and Jan raised their family in the San Diego area — Spring Valley, Santee, El Cajon and finally next to the golf course in Lakeside, California. Although Joe did not have a degree in engineering, his equivalent naval experience in shipboard interior communications qualified him to teach engineering in a local San Diego college. He was then hired to oversee the Engineering Department at Grossmont Center and Sharp-Grossmont Medical Center in La Mesa, California. Joe’s second career lasted 24 years and when he retired from his work as an engineer, he was fond of saying, “I’m really retired now, so my job is to do nothing… and by noon, I’m ‘half finished’!”
Joe and Jan raised two children, Yvonne Flaherty (Chattanooga, Tennessee) and Patrick Breslin (Huntsville, Alabama). They have eight grandchildren, Dana (Oglesby), Danielle (Hayes), Derek, Deken, Doreen, and Darbi, by Mark and Yvonne Flaherty, and Kayla Ellis and Jared Breslin by Patrick Breslin. They also have three great-grandchildren, Lennon and Abram Oglesby, and Wesson Hayes. The grand- and great-grandchildren were the highlight of their lives and the love they showered them with was the most fulfilling and rewarding passion and accomplishment in their lives.
Joe was a born-again Christian who attended church and served as a deacon at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon. He was also a member of the Joint Heirs Adult Bible Fellowship. He was a true American patriot who loved the Lord, his family and his country. He was generous to a fault, never passing an opportunity to help someone with his engineering skills or his ability to easily diagnose and fix complex problems. He inherited the “electrician” genes from his father who owned HiWay Radio and Electric in Twisp, and was a wizard for all things electrical. His young family spent many days camping in the desert, horse-packing trips, RV trips or fishing trips. He enjoyed golf and “building things” when he wasn’t deployed in the Navy, and always enjoyed a good laugh with family and friends. He was a family “historian” of sorts, spending many hours researching the lineage of his Irish roots which resulted in a nearly fully developed family tree. He was never at a loss for words or shy about telling a story!
One measure of a man is his capacity for selflessness. When their children were young, Joe and Jan built a hospital room in their home to care for his aging Uncle Denis when he had a stroke and could not care for himself. For three years they cared for his every need until he passed. The same sense of duty Joe exhibited in the service to his country he showed for his uncle when no one else could. When Jan’s health declined in 2017, he fully devoted himself to her care, serving her both medically and emotionally in a way only a true servant of the Lord could do. Ignoring his own growing health concerns, Joe faithfully served by Jan’s side until she passed away Aug. 3, 2020.
The world has lost a true gentleman, a servant, patriot, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, son and genuine child of God. He will be remembered for his steadfastness as well as his stubbornness, for his unqualified love as well as his generosity. Most importantly, he will be remembered for being the kind of husband that would treasure his “Yellow Rose of Texas” through her trials, and who literally defined the meaning of “good times and bad,” in the vows they took 58 years ago. Greater love hath no man….
Memorial Service will be in San Diego on Feb. 22, 2021.