Friday, February 23, 2018

A Windham activist remembered by Lorraine Glowczak

Many people whose passion for harmony and goodwill lost a soldier for their cause recently, when peace and human rights activist, Sally A. Breen of Windham, passed away on Wednesday, February 14, at the age of 82 after a bout with cancer. 
Originally from Texas, Breen is remembered by her family, friends and colleagues for her zeal and enthusiastic efforts to create public policy changes regarding the use of nuclear weapons as well as other human rights issues. With her efforts in changing polices, she changed many lives along the way.

“How to begin describing the ways Sally Breen has changed my life?” step-daughter Marcy Landry recalls fondly. “My earliest memories in Portland with Sally were going to protests regarding nuclear weapons. I had never seen anything like it in East Texas. She opened my eyes to gay rights and shunned the Baptist East Texas mentality. The many camping trips in Maine and New Hampshire with Sally changed me into a tom-boy. I started to care less about makeup and more about having fun hiking and camping. As a young child, I was told that every day is a blessing and empathy towards everyone is the way to act.”, it seemed, was Breen’s life force and personal mission. She was involved in many organizations such as Peace Action Maine and Equality Maine as well as an active member in the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist (AAUU) church in Portland. Additionally, she was participated in many issues surrounding clean air and other environmental concerns. “I worked on legislation and policies to strengthen our environment [with Breen],” stated Senator Bill Diamond. “She was the tireless devotee to protecting our environment.”

Her greatest actions in the fight for peace, equality and the environment were found in her protesting endeavors, and she did so - no matter the consequences. She has been arrested many times in many states while protesting; which include both offices of Senator Snow and Senator Collins. However, there is one caveat that makes her stand out from other protesters.

“Sally loved to cook,” began Nancy Knauber, a close friend. “In fact, she would bake cookies and take them to Senator Snow’s and Senator Collins' office when she went there to protest, knowing that she might get arrested. She usually got arrested. Sally got stung a couple of times as a result of her passions, but it never stopped her from doing what she believed was right.”

Knauber, who is also a member of AAUU, stated that Breen cared deeply for the homeless in the community. “She took in people who were homeless and rented a room to them. When I was sick and had no one to care for me, she let me stay at her home for a couple of months.”

Breen’s love and compassion for peace, equality, environment and those who faced challenging times did not end there. She enjoyed writing, often publishing her thought provoking articles for the Lakes Region Weekly. But more importantly, was her love for her family that included not only her step-daughter but her step-son Kyle G. Williams as well as her children Rachel Scholz, Mindy Baldauf and Neal Hogue. Last, but not least is her husband, Keith Williams who remains at their Windham home.

“She showed me how a true and loving marriage can be amazing” Landry stated. “She loved my father very much and he loved her very much. She supported my father’s endless work on water quality for Highland Lake Association and many other lakes around New England. I consider Sally to truly be my second mother.”

Her activism, love, enthusiasm and compassion will always be remembered by all those who knew and came in contact with her. For those of us who did not get to meet her, an opportunity has been missed.

There will be a celebration of life at the AAUU, 524 Allen Avenue in Portland on March 24 at 2 p.m.

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