Charles Breslin (1928-2014)
Having thought both philosophy and humanities courses at UofL for more than 35 years, Professor Emeritus Charles Breslin shared his keen mind and love of reading with generations of students who cherished him as a teacher and mentor. He was fondly remembered by his students for filling the blackboard with lines, circles, and diagrams that explained the mysteries of philosophy and the meaning of life. The depth and breadth of his knowledge, his wisdom, and his passion for lifelong learning made an indelible mark on his students and colleagues.
Professor Breslin was born in 1928 in Louisville, Kentucky and attended St. Xavier High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1950. While at Notre Dame, his mentors convinced him that he was destined to devote his life “to the mind” as a teacher and scholar.
He worked in his father’s road construction and quarry business from 1951 to 1966, and he read widely in world literature and cultural history and took graduate courses in the Humanities Division at UofL. A voracious reader and great lover of books, he earned his master’s degree in humanities from UofL in 1961 and began teaching humanities and philosophy courses part time. In 1966, A&S Dean Richard Barber appointed him to teach full time. From 1967 to 1970, he served as Chair of the Department of Philosophy.
Over his career, Professor Breslin taught a greater variety of courses than any of his peers, and he had an avid following of students who took every course he ever taught. They were dazzled by the genius of his spoken and written words and his extraordinary memory. When he ran into former students, he would remember their names and the years they were at UofL. He also was likely to discuss the subject of his recent reading and to engage his former students in lively dialogue, leaving them astounded by his intellectual prowess and vigor.
After 35 years of commitment to the College of Arts and Sciences and its students, he was named Professor Emeritus in 2000. Married for 55 years, he and his wife Jane, a UofL alumna, led a quiet life of retirement, but his addiction to books and passion for ideas remained indefatigable.