Sequim pioneers: A generation passes

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Sequim Gazette staff

With the death of John Norman Breithaupt on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, a complete generation of one of Sequim’s pioneer families has now departed.


Since the early 1920s the Breithaupt family has been part of the story of the Olympic Peninsula. While many members of the family still live in Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Forks, John N. Breithaupt was the last survivor of the original family that moved to the peninsula from Wapato in 1922.


Douglas Breithaupt, one of John’s sons, recently provided details, saying his grandparents, John C. and Inez (Loucks) Breithaupt, were married in 1915 in Richland. After the birth of their first three children, Catherine, Virginia and Richard, the family moved from Wapato to Port Angeles and then to Sequim where they lived out their lives. David, John N. and Janet were born on the peninsula. 


The children grew up on the family farm and attended school in Sequim, but the three boys didn’t follow their father into farming. Instead they all became loggers and spent the majority of their working lives in that profession. 


John N. worked for a number of logging companies, including Merrill and Ring, Crown Zellerbach and the Brown Pole Company. In the 1960s he formed his own company, Breithaupt Logging.


In 1957, he married Diana Croix of Port Angeles and the two had four children: Douglas, Mark, Ruthann and John W. In 1963, the family relocated to Discovery Bay.


John N. and his young family made an abrupt lifestyle change in 1968. They sold Breithaupt Logging and the family moved to Seattle where John and Diana opened a halfway house in the University District for the troubled youth who were flooding into the area as part of the hippie movement. Douglas said, “With the support of local churches, the family lived in the whirlwind that was the U District in 1968 to ’70.”


Douglas added, “The experience gave birth to the great love and mission of John N. Breithaupt’s life — to minister to the needs of people who found themselves lacking the resources to care for themselves.” 


Breithaupt ran drop-in coffee houses in Seattle, a rural retreat near Spokane and even went overseas to Israel in order to serve those in need.


More recently, John and Diana moved back to Tacoma to be closer to children and grandchildren. “He pursued one of his other great loves, building a large vegetable garden and giving most of what he grew to friends and neighbors,” Douglas said.


When John’s brother Richard died in 2011, John became the last living member of his generation.


With John Norman’s passing, the generation that survived the Great Depression and World War II is no longer represented in the Breithaupt family.


“However,” said Douglas, “through family, friends and hundreds whose lives were touched by John Norman Breithaupt, his life and this generation will not be forgotten.”


The Breithaupt family and friends will gather Saturday, June 23, 2012, at Douglas’ home at 43 Bentley Place in Port Townsend from 1-3 p.m. to celebrate the life of John N. Breithaupt.


“All who knew him are encouraged to attend,” said Douglas. RSVP by calling Douglas at 360-379-0531.

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