Elizabeth Juul Breen

June 9, 1936 ~ July 18, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old


Elizabeth Juul Breen passed away peacefully in Tacoma, Washington on July 18, 2023, with her family at her side. Born before World War II in San Francisco, Elizabeth led a life of adventure and lifelong intellectual curiosity.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in English, Elizabeth taught school while also traveling through Europe and South America. In 1963, she answered President Kennedy’s call to service, joining one of the first classes of the Peace Corps and teaching in Sierra Leone.

While teaching in San Diego, Elizabeth attended a US Navy dance and was swept off her feet by a dashing naval officer, Frank James Breen. They married in 1967 and lived in Cincinnati, Seattle and Los Angeles, before settling into their beautiful hilltop home in Tacoma, where they raised their two children, Ivan and Amanda. Elizabeth always loved a great view, and their home had the best, making the Breens’ balcony the most coveted invite in town for the annual 4th of July air show.

Elizabeth was an avid hiker, climber and skier. She instilled her love of the outdoors in her children, spending vacations each summer in Lake Chelan and the North Cascades, where she could feel some of that sunshine she so missed from her California days. While raising two children and working full-time, Elizabeth also earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English, and was a professor of English at Pierce College. Her love of food and cooking inspired her son Ivan to be an avid home chef and foodie.

Elizabeth and Frank’s love of the mountains brought them to Sun Valley, Idaho for their annual ski trips with their Tacoma friends. They bought a condo in Sun Valley and discovered the beauty of the Sun Valley summers, spending more time in the Idaho mountains as they reached retirement. Elizabeth’s favorite part of the summer was the Sun Valley Music Festival, where she volunteered for many years, satisfying her dual passions for classical music and for volunteering. Elizabeth also volunteered at the Wood River Land Trust, the Environmental Resource Center, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. She never stopped wanting to learn new things and to use her education to give back to others.

Elizabeth was a devoted grandmother to her grandson Camden these past 11 years. She loved reading books to him and cooking him her amazing “Elizabethan dinners,” and Camden loved seeing “Gran” so much both in Sun Valley and Tacoma.

Elizabeth is survived by her loving husband of 56 years, Frank James Breen, her son Ivan Breen and his wife Shinobu Yoshioka, her daughter Amanda Breen and her husband David Patrie, her grandson Camden Patrie, and her brother Frederick Juul. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Sun Valley Music Festival or to Franke Tobey Jones in Tacoma are appreciated.

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