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Gene Breda with daughters Marlene Rose, Jean Ann, Barbara Ellen, Lynne Marie, twins Donna Louise and Debra Lucille, Janice Carol and Nancy Elise.
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Breda Family Reunion Celebrates Patriarch's 90th year

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Breda, his wife, Dorothy, and their daughters from a video shown at the reunion.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Four generations of Bredas gathered at the family home this weekend for a family reunion with a special celebration: the 90th birthday of paterfamilias Genesio Breda.

Breda, retired city engineer, was getting his birthday party nearly a month early — he'll be 90 on Sept. 18 — to conincide with what's become an anual gathering of far-flung Breda clan.

"We're expecting close to 70 or 80 people," his daughter Barbara Breda Bolte said on Saturday. "We have them coming from Florida, Connecticut, Lanesborough ... Virginia ... My son is coming from California."

Dressed in a personalized Jack Daniels-style T-shirt (Genesio, aged for 90 years), Breda said he'd worked for the city for more than 40 years.

"They hired me right out of school," he said. "They didn't even give me a chance to take a vacation."

Breda had been working on the city's survey crew after leaving the Navy in 1948. He took a leave to attend Chicago Technical College, an intense three-year hands on course in engineering. No sports, and no summers off, he said.

Archie Wright, a surveyor and uncle of his good friend Walter Konopka, had gone there and suggested Breda would be a good fit.

"It sounded nice to me," Breda said. "They called it a knowledge factory."

He was still in Chicago when he was offered the job of assistant city engineer in 1951 and was appointed as engineer in 1962 by Mayor Francis C. Florini. He worked with Konopka, Frank Knowles and a future mayor, Louis Diamond and later was on the City Hall Building Committee.

Breda became commissioner of public services with the reorganization of the city's administrative structure in 1980 and retired a decade later.

"I love being retired. I love it," he said with a grin. "They used to call me in but I've been retired a long time. ... They've totally forgotten about me."

His wife, the former Dorothy B. Genesi, died in 2003 but he's kept busy with his garden, growing grapes, blueberries, tomatoes and greens, and visiting his children and grandchildren.

A year ago, he accompanied his daughter Nancy Vittone and her husband Jeffrey, and his granddaughter on a trip to Italy his father's hometown where his father was born.

His parents Joseph and Rose D'Onofrio Breda had come from different areas of Italy to meet and marry in North Adams. His trip to Turrivalignani, Italy, uncovered his father's unknown twin sister and a town full of Bredas.

On Saturday, North Adams was full of Bredas as his daughters Marlene Rose, Jean Ann, Barbara Ellen, Lynne Marie, twins Donna Louise and Debra Lucille, Janice Carol and Nancy Elise and their families prepared to party. Some of his 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren were also on hand.

A series of tents was set up in the back yard at the top of Harris Street, where Breda and his late wife had raised their eight daughters. A surprise video of family images and personal notes from his daughters was set to be shown.

"My daughters did all of this," he said, proudly showing off the dinner tent decorated with balloons in gold, silver and black to mark his 90 years and tables and chairs ready to seat his large family.

Tags: birthday,   family reunion,   

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