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Scholarship will keep Breitenbach’s legacy alive

Every year, when the Middletown Rotary Club held its orange and grapefruit sale — its largest fundraiser — Rotarian Robert “Bob” Breitenbach purchased boxes of the items and stored them in his garage.

His widow Tina Breitenbach joked the boxes took up so much space there was no room for cars.

On Tuesday, during a Middletown Rotary Club meeting, it was announced students at Miami University Middletown will enjoy the fruits of Breitenbach’s labor and love. The Middletown Rotary Club Foundation presented the university with a $25,000 check that will be used to fund a scholarship in memory of Breitenbach, a Middletown funeral home director who died on Aug. 26, 2013. He was 70.

He was the owner of the Breitenbach-McCoy-Leffler Funeral Home in Middletown since 1977 and was with the funeral home for 50 years.

About 15 members of his family and close friends attended the ceremony at the Middletown Senior Citizens Center. Tina Breitenbach and one of her daughters, Jennifer Cole, and granddaughter, Grace Cole, talked about his dedication to the Rotary and living life by following the simple motto: “Service above self.”

Cole said those words will be forever etched on her father’s tombstone.

“It resonated in his heart,” she said. “He served from the heart.”

G. Michael Pratt, dean of the college of professional studies and applied sciences, said those who are at least sophomores, possess leadership qualities and obtain high grades will be eligible for the annual scholarship. He said the scholarship will assure that someone with “very fragile” finances will graduate and become “successful in life.”

After the meeting, Tina Breitenbach reflected on her life with her husband. She said he often gave away those boxes of fruits to local churches and homeless shelters, and he never turned down a request for a donation to a worthy cause.

“He was a very giving man,” she said.

They were married for “34 perfect years,” she said, noting that probably sounded “weird.” When he ate dinner, met friends or attended a party, it was “the absolute best one ever,” she said.

“It was like he was always running for mayor,” she said with a smile.