WARREN, NJ - The news was broken on Camp Riverbend's Facebook page. Marianne Breene, co-founder of the camp and a mother and grandmother figure to scores of campers, has died.
"It is with great sadness that we announce that our mother, matriarch and Camp Riverbend co-founder, Marianne Breene, died peacefully last night surrounded by her husband of 65 years Harold, children and grandchildren," Camp Riverbend posted on its Facebook page.
"She was 93 years old and had worked at camp for all 55 years of our existence. Even this past season, she could be seen handing out drinks at lunch and ice cream at the end of the day. As generations of campers and staff know well, she was small but mighty and had an enormous personality and capacity for love. We will miss her as we carry on, in her spirit, the traditions that have made Camp Riverbend the special place that it is."
Social media has exploded with memories of Breene and condolences for the family.
- I am so saddened to hear this news. Mama Breene was unlike anyone else in the World. My heart goes out to Harold, most especially, because he's the one who knew her best! I also send my condolences to the whole family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
- She was not only the Matriarch of a great family and of camp, but she was a second mom to many of us and a terrific boss. My girls still talk about the ice pops--years later. She is a love.
- The best of Mrs Breene is evident in her children, her grandchildren and the counselors and campers whose lives she nurtured and enhanced.
- No words can express the sadness that I feel. Mrs. Breene was my second grandmother when I worked there. She was an amazing person and someone that I admired and will admire. She was a force to be reckoned with and loved every child with her entire heart. It was a pleasure and honor to work for her and along side her. I send my condolences to Mr. Breene because their love was one for the ages. Condolences to her entire family - she will be missed.
- My condolences to the Breene family. Marianne will be remembered and held in the hearts of generations of campers and their parents.
- I am so saddened by this. The Breene's were a huge part of my childhood. I was a camper for 12 years, and had the privilege of being in the same age group as her granddaughter, Abby Breene DeCurtis. The entire family was (and is) so amazing. The best childhood memories are from Camp Riverbend. My best friends growing up were not school friends, but camp friends. I sat with my table of camp friends at my Bat Mizvah and had a candle specifically for them. You can't think about those memories and not remember Harold and Marianne. This summer, on the last day, I know that the floating candle ceremony will be in Marianne's honor.
- "Small but mighty" perfectly sums up Mrs. Breene. The impact she had cannot be understated. All our love to you guys.
- I'm so sorry for your loss. When our family talks about the importance of finding joy in one's daily life, we always cite Mr. and Mrs. Breene as among the most joy-filled (and joy-spreading) we know. May Mrs. Breene Rest In Peace, and may your family find comfort in the knowledge that she touched countless lives.
A memorial service will be held in the spring. Details will be published when finalized. Donations in her name may be made to the Hannah Peretsman Breene Foundation 596 Longview Rd., South Orange NJ 07079 or http://www.hannahperetsmanbreenefoundation.org/mission-statement/