Gladys Ellis Bredenberg, 26 Nov 1926 – 19 May 2018 (Obituary for my mother)

Gladys Ellis Bredenberg
November 26, 1926 – May 19, 2018

GEB1982Gladys Ellis Bredenberg died at the age of 91, on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at Sunrise North Hills Senior Living, Raleigh, NC, where she had resided since 2014.

Gladys Bredenberg came to Raleigh in 1950 with her husband, Paul Arnold Bredenberg (October 24,1923 – November 15, 2009). Together, the Bredenbergs raised a family and developed deep roots in the community. Gladys studied at North Carolina State University, taught English and reading in public schools, and operated a tutoring service specializing in remedial education.

Gladys Marie Ellis was born November 26, 1926, in Georgetown, SC, daughter of Buchanan Carmel Ellis (1879-1939) and Ola Belle Dukes Ellis (1904-1994). The Ellis family moved to Kingstree, SC, about 1930. Gladys attended Kingstree High School starting in September 1939 and graduated in May 1943.

After finishing high school, Gladys moved to Charleston, SC. She was working in Charleston, when she met Paul A. Bredenberg, who was at the naval base in Charleston for the decommissioning of his ship after World War II. They were married in Charleston in 1947. From 1947 to 1950, they lived in New Haven, CT, where Paul completed his graduate-school education.

In 1950, the Bredenbergs moved to Raleigh, NC, where Paul began working as assistant professor at North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University, NCSU).
Gladys and Paul’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 Avenue in Raleigh, near the college campus. For the academic year of 1955 to 1956, the family lived temporarily in Palo Alto, CA, where Paul studied at Stanford University. In 1962, they moved to their new home on Crump Road in Raleigh, adjacent to an extensive tract of North Carolina state farmland, which is now NCSU’s Centennial Campus.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Gladys studied English at NCSU and obtained her bachelor of arts degree with high honors in May 1970. She went on to earn an M.Ed. from Duke University in 1974, with specialization in reading. She obtained teaching certificates in reading and English, and spent seven years in public-school classrooms, teaching English, language arts, and remedial classes. Gladys later started her own practice as a private tutor, specializing in reading.

After retiring in 1986, the Bredenbergs spent many glorious days at their vacation house near Sparta in the North Carolina mountains. Gladys enjoyed volunteer work, including reading for the blind and visiting nursing-home residents. The couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in Raleigh on June 21, 1997, in conjunction with a large Bredenberg-Ellis family reunion.

In 1998, Paul and Gladys left their Crump Road home and moved to Whitaker Glen, a lovely retirement community in Raleigh, where they enjoyed the company of many long-time friends and acquaintances. In March 2009, Paul entered Mayview Convalescent Center, where, sadly, he died in November. Gladys was further grieved by the death a few months later of her younger son, Jeffrey, who died at home in Oreland, PA, on March 2, 2010, after a long illness.

In 2014, Gladys moved to Sunrise North Hills, an assisted living facility near the home of her surviving son, Alfred, and daughter-in-law, Virginia. At Sunrise, she received much kind attention and assistance from skilled care managers and nurses at the facility. While limited by her health, Gladys enjoyed several peaceful years at Sunrise, interacting with acquaintances in the Sunrise dining room, participating in group activities, and receiving visits, phone calls, and letters from friends and relatives.

Gladys suffered a stroke on May 8, 2018. Unable to recover, she died on Saturday evening, May 19, 2018, in her own room at Sunrise North Hills.

Gladys Ellis Bredenberg is survived by her son, Alfred R. Bredenberg, and wife Virginia, of Raleigh, NC; her brother, Jack B. Ellis and wife Rosa, of Santa Rosa Beach, FL; her daughter-in-law, Stacey Burling, of Oreland, PA; and grandchildren Paul W. Bredenberg, Adam Bredenberg, Colin Bredenberg, Bevan Quinn, and Mauireen Quinn Bell.

An informal gathering for family, friends, and acquaintances of Gladys will be held on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at 1 p.m., at Sunrise Senior Living of North Hills, 615 Spring Forest Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609. Friends and family will be invited to share experiences and remembrances.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Rex Healthcare Foundation, 2500 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 325, Raleigh, NC 27607.



‘A Yearbook Encounter,’ essay by Paul A. Bredenberg

[Following is an essay written by my father, Paul Arnold Bredenberg, in 2003. A further explanation will follow. ARB]

A Yearbook Encounter

By Paul Arnold Bredenberg

It started with a newspaper clipping sent by my brother, who still lives in my old home town. The story was a tribute to Naz Servideo, an old acquaintance of mine who died recently. He was a basketball star on our great high school team of ’38-’39, the team that almost won the state championship. We lost by four points. I always felt that we would have won if Naz, our best shooter, had taken just three more shots. Do you suppose that loss is long forgotten and has entirely ceased to hurt? Think again — it’s been only sixty-four years. A fellow needs time.

PaulABredenbergAndTennisHatAbt1965_smallI was a student manager for that team, and the players treated me like one of the family. How many times had I taped Naz’s ankles before he went out on the court? 1 just had to get out my yearbook and find the team picture for that year. Maybe not one of my better ideas, but I couldn’t help it.

There they were. What athletes! Two of them, who also played football, went on after the war to play the end positions (offense and defense in those days) on the New York Giants first team. Both are also now deceased.

But what happens once your yearbook lies open? Your finger turns page after page, you see row after row of those clear young faces, most of them hauntingly familiar. Your finger stops now and then under pictures of the smart and talented and, in my case, of a few girls who caught my eye, gave me “ideas,” but seemed unreachably distant. I found, however, that they had signed their names beside their pictures, so apparently I was not hopelessly shy.

My finger paused for some time under Vito’s picture. It seemed I had always known him. His father had been my barber as far back as I could remember. The next pause was for Archie — tall, raw-boned, tough — but as gentle and kind a friend as you could ask for. The thing is, I knew that Vito and Archie never came back from the war in Europe.

The picture that held my attention for the longest time was the one of Stanley. Seeing that strong young face, with the expression that always seemed to me slightly cynical, my thoughts spun back in time more than sixty years. Stanley was the kid next door, my companion on neighborhood adventures. We walked to school together and were about as close as teenagers can get.

When the war was over and I had received my discharge from the Navy, I went home for a brief visit with my parents before going back to work on my college degree. Approaching the house, I looked down the driveway between our place and the neighbor’s; then upward against the sky I could see the line running between the second floor windows of the two houses. I smiled.

On my first trip upstairs to my room I went over to my desk beside the window. There was my little apparatus, just as I’d left it several years before. I’d put it together with scrap wood, metal and wire. Adding a store-bought lantern-type battery and a buzzer, what I had created was a kind of telegraph terminal. Stanley had put together a similar rig in his room across the driveway, and we had strung a two-way insulated wire through our room windows connecting our “terminals. ”

What we had in mind was to send messages back and forth by Morse Code. But first we had to learn the Code. Perhaps we thought it might be worth a Scout merit badge. We went to work on it and got to the point of being able to chat back and forth at about ten words per minute, maybe more.

Now, years later, 1 thought to myself, just for the heck of it, let’s try it out. Surprisingly, my buzzer worked just fine. I raised my window, pressed my key, but couldn’t tell for sure whether Stanley’s buzzer was sounding.

I found my mother down in the kitchen.

“Mom, I just tried to get a signal to Stanley. Do you know whether he’s home these days?”

Her hand flew to cover her face, as it always did when she was surprised or embarrassed. “Oh, my Lord,” she said. “I forgot to tell you …. His parents got word, oh sometime last summer, I think …. that he was missing in action. Then a few months later someone came to tell them that he … that he would not be coming back … from Europe.”

She reached out her arms to hold me, her eyes watering. “I’m so sorry … I know how you and Stanley ….” I held her close and didn’t try to stop my own tears. The wound was as dose to the heart as any that war would bring me.

Back in my room I sat at my desk a long time, looking down that telegraph line to Stanley’s window. My youthful sentiment at the time was that in the years to come there would always be a kind of connecting line between us, even though one of the terminals lay under a small white cross on a gentle green slope in the north of France.

Nearly sixty years later, that line is still there. It carries no messages in code tapped out with finger on key, but one can tell movement on the line by pressing a finger under a certain small picture in an old high- school yearbook.

[The essay quoted above was published in 2003 in the newsletter for Whitaker Glen, the retirement community where my father and mother, Paul and Gladys Bredenberg, were living at the time. During his last several years, my dad began doing some writing and published a series of essays and poems in the newsletter. I always wished he had done more writing and that he had sought broader publishing venues, but near the end of the life he seemed satisfied to reach his small audience there at Whitaker Glen. This was always my favorite of his pieces, and recently some family members said they would like to read it again. So here it is.]

ARB — 14 November 2015



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