In Memoriam, Jerry Breeze

It was a shock to wake up this morning to the news that Jerry Breeze passed away on Saturday from a sudden heart attack.

Jerry retired recently (summer 2013) from his long time position as Government Information librarian at Columbia University. It was government information that brought us together and we met regularly at Metro GoDig meetings, at DLC, and at Columbia. He was and early adopter of any information technology and a supporter and promoter of online access. He created some wonderful subject guides to government information, and I use them regularly.
Jerry was my go-to GovDocs librarian for the Jewish holidays – he would teach my classes on those occasions when the two were on the same night.

Jerry Breeze (center) with students

Jerry Breeze (center) with students

We had that kind of professional friendship that develops over years. In addition to government information, we shared a neighborhood, a love for the Middle East and many shared values.
It was just under a year ago that Jerry and I, along with two other govdocs librarians, met for a celebratory dinner in honor of Jerry’s retirement. Jerry was telling us about his plans to travel to Turkey and Egypt, two trips that he has since then completed, he just returned from Egypt in October.

Since then we have kept in touch on Facebook, and Facebook, what can I say, is a wonderful thing. Jerry shared posts about Open Access policies, Humans of NY, and photos from his trip to Egypt. His soft spot for dogs, underdogs and justice told the story of the person Jerry was. In the photos, there is always a happy sparkle in Jerry’s eye, and you can see how much he’s enjoying life. That’s how we will remember him.

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5 Comments on “In Memoriam, Jerry Breeze”

  1. Nancy says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks regarding the death of Jerry Breeze. As you noted, Jerry had just completed his highly regarded professional career and had just begun a whole new phase of his life. I am so sorry that he didn’t have more time.

    • Virginia Gaines says:

      I knew Jerry in Austin when he was a reference librarian at the University of Texas in the Perry-Castaneda Library. I was a “classified” staff member, or an LA (Library Assistant). Jerry, always irreverent, was sitting with me at the reference desk–the reference desk! Feels like ages ago. A student came up and asked about finding some articles on a particular subject. Jerry pointed at a nearby table where a huge multi-volume reference work was shelved, a social-sciences reference work (YES, BOOKS!!) and explained how to look up articles by subject and note the journals in which the articles had been published. Then he explained that the next step was to search the library catalog to see if we actually had those journals in PCL. The student put a fist on one hip, sighed in disgust and said, “Isn’t there an easier way?”

      “That’s called research,” Jerry said with a little smile, and did not say another word.

  2. Ted Goodman says:

    Thank you for these wonderful memories of Jerry. As a fellow Columbia librarian, we appreciated his work, humor and stories. He will certainly be missed! Ted Goodman

  3. Elaine Blodgett says:

    I worked for Jerry at PCL at UT. Not really like having a boss, but we had a lot of fun. A real live wire. He will be missed far and wide.

  4. John Howard says:

    I was close to Jerry in the eighties, here in Austin. He and I worked together, and briefly dated. I noticed many were jealous. He lived in a great old fourplex with a nice garden out back. There was a very large specimen of Indian hawthorne growing up to his second floor balcony. Jerry and I shared a love of gardening, music and food. He taught me to appreciate Rachmanninov. I was more of a Delius, Vaughn Williams lover up to then. His collection was extensive, and I enjoyed it. I still have some of his old albums. He said I was too young, and he was right. He lived through that era of AIDS that I was too young to have experienced so personally. I see that as a source of his amazing sense of and need for humor. He was different in our context, of course. Now I am an aging man, I can understand him better. At the time, he seemed cold. I did not appreciate his wisdom. When he left, it was sudden. In keeping with a clean break, we never spoke again, as far as I can recall. I am very glad he found a satisfying life there. The other day, news came of his death from a mutual friend, and thirty years melted away. All the old perceptions were revisited. i remembered him as the fairly young, handsome and gay man I knew. He was compelling to everyone, for different reasons. He was born a Carnegie,a heritage I think fitting. I saw his facebook page, which is worth a perusal before it, too, is gone from here. Rest in peace, my old friend.


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