Tom Breen; journalist, professor, June 22, 2011 at 65

Longtime journalist Tom Breen, who headed FLORIDA TODAYs Space Team coverage from 2000 to 2002, died suddenly at his home earlier this week, June 22, 2011, in Indian Harbour Beach, Fl, of cardiac arrest. He was 65, with a vigor and insatiable curiosity about life that led him back to school to pursue a late-in-life masters degree from Rollins College in Winter Park in 2005, and then a doctorate in liberal studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which he still was pursuing. He completed "all but the dissertation," an academic saying that used to annoy him greatly. But for the past five years, he used his newfound academic credentials to teach 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 Historic Commission.
Tom had an eclectic journalism career, which began with weeklies in his native Massachusetts, but eventually took him to Washington, D.C., where he worked as the night city editor of The Washington Star, and then U.S. News & World Report before moving out West to work first as the city editor of the Palo Alto 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 also wore innumerable other hats during his seven years there. He served as the papers sports editor, movie critic and finally as a foreign correspondent, covering the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in the 1980s. Upon his return, he was invited to the prestigious Cosmos Club in Washington to talk about his two-year experience. Tom 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. Before coming to FLORIDA TODAY, where he returned briefly as a feature writer, Tom worked as editor of Air Force Times for three years.

Full obit:


  1. from an email - Julie BirdJune 26, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    The Defense Standard publisher forwarded me your note asking about bio information for Tom Breen. I edit the magazine and hired Tom as a freelancer starting with our first issue in January 2008. I worked with him when he was editor at Air Force Times in the mid-90s. Not sure of the exact dates, although I think he left in 1998. Before that he was an editor at Defense News. I think he went there from the Inside the Pentagon newsletters in Washington, not sure which ones. You guys would know more about this than I would, but before that he lived and worked in the Philippines for awhile as a corresponded for the Star. I don’t know the timelines.

    After leaving Air Force Times he had his own news consulting company and also did some freelancing. I think he worked for Florida Today for a time as did his wife, Susan. (Not sure of her professional name, and whether she worked for the paper there near Cocoa Beach.) They lived in Brevard County, Fla. Tom was freelancing for publications including Federal Times and Defense Standard at the time of his death. He also was pursuing a Ph.D. (in theology, I think) at Georgetown University, commuting to classes from Florida, and teaching part time at Brevard Community College.

    For Defense Standard, he specialized in writing tributes about military heroes, most of them Medal of Honor recipients. You can see them online at There’s one in almost every issue. Last month he went to Bath, Maine, for the christening of the USS Michael Murphy, named after a young Navy SEAL Tom had written about back in 2008 and a few times since. He donated his time to write two more stories about Murphy for the christening publication published by Defense Standard Publishing.

    Tom was a devoted Red Sox fan. He and his wife have one son.

    Julie Bird

  2. Mr, Breen was working on a piece about the Tea Party. Tom, we are worried about the direction of the country and nothing more. We do not seek control of others and want america to be number one again in order to thwart tyranny and oppression globally. You would be my choice of a leader, you are honest and thoughtful and care for our humanity. Till we meet again, bye my freind and teacher.