Paul A. Bredenberg of Raleigh, NC, has died, Nov. 15, 2009

Following is the obituary I wrote for my father, Paul A. Bredenberg, at his death in 2009. Originally a version of this appeared in the Raleigh newspaper. However, it looks to me as if now you have to pay to keep such an obituary available online. (Too bad, because it was expensive to have it published in the first place, and web server space costs next to nothing.) I wanted to make sure there was a permanent version available, so here it is. [ARB, 18 August 2018]

Paul Arnold Bredenberg Ph.D.

PaulABredenbergAndTennisHatAbt1965_smallOct. 24, 1923 – Nov. 15, 2009

  • Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University, Department of Philosophy and Religion, 1950-1986
  • Ensign, U.S. Navy, World War II
  • Civil Rights Activist
  • Athlete and Promoter of Youth Sports

Paul Arnold Bredenberg Ph.D. died on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009, at Mayview Convalescent Center, in Raleigh, N.C., at the age of 86.

Paul Bredenberg had lived in Raleigh since 1950, where he raised a family, taught philosophy for 36 years at North Carolina State University (NCSU), spearheaded a youth tennis program that fostered an entire generation of Raleigh tennis players – and became known as a champion of civil rights in North Carolina and the Triangle region (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

Paul Arnold Bredenberg was born Oct. 24, 1923, in Schenectady, N.Y., to Alfred Bredenberg Jr. and Cora Edith (Felton) Bredenberg. Paul’s grandfather, also named Alfred Bredenberg, had emigrated to the United States from Sweden, settling in upstate New York. In 1926, Paul’s family moved from Schenectady to Erie, Pa., where Paul grew up.

Paul is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gladys Marie (Ellis) Bredenberg; his brother Willard Alfred Bredenberg; his sons Alfred R. Bredenberg and wife Virginia of Raleigh and Jeffrey E. Bredenberg and wife Stacey Burling of Oreland, Pa.; and grandchildren Paul W. Bredenberg, Adam Bredenberg, Colin Bredenberg, Bevan Quinn, Jeremy Quinn, and Mauireen Quinn Bell.

Paul began attending the University of Pittsburgh in Erie in 1940, but his education was interrupted by World War II. During the war, Paul served as Ensign in the U.S. Navy on a destroyer in the South Pacific. At the war’s conclusion, he left the Navy, but not before meeting his wife-to-be, Gladys, in Charleston, S.C., where he was stationed and where she was living and working.

To continue his education, Paul returned to Pennsylvania, attending the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. He graduated in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and returned to Charleston without delay (skipping his graduation ceremony) to get married to Gladys.

After their marriage, Paul and Gladys moved to New Haven, Conn., where Paul obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale University. During that period, 1947 to 1950, they lived for a time in New Haven with Paul’s aunt and uncle, Hilda and Fred Fowler, then in their own apartment.

After finishing graduate school, Paul and Gladys moved to Raleigh, where Paul had obtained a job as assistant professor of philosophy and social studies at North Carolina State College (now University, NCSU, aka “State”).

Paul and Gladys’s first son, Alfred Roy Bredenberg, was born in 1951 and their second son, Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg, in 1953. When the boys were small, the family lived on Carlton Ave. in Raleigh, near the college campus. For the academic year of 1955 to 1956, the family moved temporarily to Palo Alto, Calif., where Paul studied poetry under Ivor Winters at Stanford University, on a Ford Foundation Faculty Fellowship. He also obtained a Rockefeller Foundation grant to study at Harvard University during the summer of 1956. Paul was promoted to Professor at State in 1963.

In 1962, Paul and Gladys and boys moved to their new home on Crump Rd. in Raleigh, adjacent to an extensive tract of North Carolina state farmland, which is now NCSU’s Centennial Campus.

During his academic career, Paul chaired the Committee on Academic Freedom of the American Association of University Professors and served as president of the North Carolina Philosophical Association. Paul retired from the university in 1986.

Paul was known in North Carolina and the Triangle region as an advocate of civil rights. He served on a steering committee in 1969 that led to the establishment of the Wake County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). After the chapter’s establishment, he served several terms on the board, including a stint as president. In 1992, he received the chapter’s W.W. Finlator Award, presented annually to local champions of civil rights.

For most of his life, Paul was an avid tennis player, becoming Raleigh city champion twice and achieving state ranking for his doubles play. He became known in the Raleigh area for his work in youth tennis, coaching the Raleigh boys’ tennis team and running a free Saturday youth tennis clinic for many years, contributing to the formation of a whole generation of Raleigh tennis players.

In 2005, Paul was honored at the NC Tennis Hall of Fame in Greensboro with a memorial pathway stone inscribed “In Honor of Paul Bredenberg, for All That You Did for Junior Tennis.”

After his retirement in 1986, Paul pursued many hobbies and special interests, including tennis and golf, deep sea fishing, vegetable gardening, pastel painting, matting and framing, and stone polishing. He and Gladys spent many glorious days at their vacation house near Sparta in Paul’s beloved North Carolina mountains.

In 1998, Paul and Gladys left their Crump Road home and moved to Whitaker Glen, a lovely retirement community in Raleigh, where they have enjoyed the company of many long-time friends and acquaintances. Paul became known for his contributions of stories, articles, essays, and poems for the Whitaker Glen newsletter.

In March of this year, Paul entered Mayview Convalescent Center, passing several peaceful months until his death on Sunday. Paul’s family wishes to extend their greatest thanks to Dr. James Parsons Jr., medical director, and the staff of excellent caregivers at Mayview, who showed so much compassion for Paul during his final days.

An informal gathering for family, friends, and acquaintances of Paul will be held Thursday, Nov. 19, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., in the Whitaker Glen Building B Atrium, 501 E. Whitaker Mill Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27608. Friends and family will be invited to share experiences and remembrances.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to ACLU Wake County Chapter, c/o NC ACLU, PO Box 28004, Raleigh, NC 27617; or Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3313 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607.


AB — 16 Nov. 2009


4 thoughts on “Paul A. Bredenberg of Raleigh, NC, has died, Nov. 15, 2009

  1. Deborah B.

    I remember Dr. Bredenberg from NCSU and his son Jeffrey from Broughton. I graduated one year behind Jeff. I grew up walking distance from NCSU’s campus. I just learned of Jeff’s passing today, so I wish to offer my condolences to the Bredenberg family. My mother passed away on August 15, 2009. Dr. Bredenberg and Jeff were remarkable men. I am quite certain you have wonderful memories. What a legacy!

  2. I am very sorry for your loss. You don’t know me but I am a relative, Nan, from Clinton County, NY. My mother is Alfred Bredenberg Sr.’s granddaughter. Paul’s father’s sister, Olga, from Alfred Sr.’s first marriage is Mom’s mother. Mom, Sarah Lewis, is 92 years of age and has told me many interesting stories of this part of our amazing family. And yes, what a legacy!

  3. quriosity

    Nan — Thanks for your comment. Great to hear from you. I’m amazed that you can work out our family relationship! Hope all is well.
    Al B.

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