- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Veteran correspondent Tom Breen, an anchor of The Washington Times’ domestic and international coverage in the paper’s early days, died last Wednesday of a heart attack at his home in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., at the age of 65.

Mr. Breen arrived at The Times in its founding year, 1982, and became the paper’s first city editor. Over the next few years, he would serve as a beat reporter, business correspondent and movie editor and even covered the powerhouse Washington Redskins teams of the mid-1980s before becoming an accomplished international reporter.

Among his major assignments was extensive coverage of the fall of Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, toppled by the People Power Revolution of 1986. His work while based in Manila included dispatches from across Asia, from South Korea to Indonesia.

He was not afraid to interview rebel soldiers or put himself in the middle of dangerous war zones, where abductions of tourists were on the rise. He even once pretended to be interested in a mail-order bride club to explore the attitudes of Philippine women toward Americans.

Mr. Breen began his career working for weekly publications in his native Massachusetts before coming to Washington.

In addition to his work at The Times, Mr. Breen’s reporting career included stints as a night editor for the now-defunct Washington Star, as well as writing jobs at U.S. News & World Report, the Palo Alto (Calif.) Tribune, the Arizona Republic and the Air Force Times.

After moving to Florida, he led the space coverage for two years at Florida Today and for the past five years taught as an adjunct professor at Brevard Community College, according to a notice published in Florida Today.

Deborah Simmons, a columnist for The Times who once worked under Mr. Breen, said he was a tenacious editor who made sure reporters followed through on every story. Another co-worker, Deputy Foreign Editor James Morrison, said Mr. Breen was “one of the original Timesmen who left his mark on news coverage here.”

He is survived by his wife and a son, as well as his father, Thomas J. Breen Sr. The family has arranged that contributions in his name can be made to the American Heart Association or Doctors Without Borders, according to the Florida Today report.

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