Stephen Carl Breeden, 69, died Thursday at IU Hospice House in Bloomington. He left this world encircled by family members who loved him, and who sang gospel hymns as he peacefully drew his last breath. They watched in wonder as the wind picked up outside, and could almost see his dear spirit slip out the open window of his room to the freedom that lies beyond. His dog Kenna, ever faithful, stayed by his side until the end.
Just hours before his death, Carl nodded in agreement with the idea that he was a very lucky man. Life’s most precious gift is to die in the company of those who love you, and Carl certainly did that with dignity and grace.
His death was celebrated in the heavens by a powerful storm that knocked power lines down near Breeden Road south of Bloomington. Thunderstorms were among Carl’s favorite things.
Carl was born to Harold (Pappy) and Virginia Breeden on April 5, 1944. He was the sixth child in a family of nine that included three sets of twins and three singles, of which he was one. He was named after a courageous uncle who lost his life as a volunteer on a hospital ship picking up wounded soldiers.
Carl’s life was an exercise in courage as well. He was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, or to speak out against injustice, even when he was surrounded by those who disagreed with him. Yet he always did so in a way that affirmed the worth and dignity of every person, even those with whom he disagreed. Robert Frost said, “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self confidence.” Given that standard, Carl was among the most educated of men. He could discuss contentious subjects like religion and politics with confidence in his own truth and respect for another’s.