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Obituaries

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Charles A. Breed ( January 31, 1927 - June 30, 2018 )

Charles Breed was an artist, a teacher and a philosopher of life. All who knew him were familiar with his views. “Life is a paradox. It is both a mystery to be lived and a problem to be solved. There is a fine line between the rational and irrational, facts and feelings, real and imagined.” Charles’ art celebrates the seasonal equinoxes and solstices, the sun and moon risings, and the cyclic constants in nature that enrich our daily lives.

Charles Ayars Breed married Ester Karen Hansen, the love of his life, on July 30, 1949. One year later, they moved to Midland where Charles began teaching art. At the same time he started Equiline Design, a graphic design business which will become a museum to celebrate his legacy as an artist. For forty years, Charles’ ingenuity and innovative curriculum inspired and motivated countless students in Midland Public Schools and at Delta College. Beginning in 1958, and for the following seven summers, he also directed the art department at National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan.

Charles received a Dow Chemical Foundation grant in 1960 to explore the use of plastic as an art medium. With the medium of plastic (molded, formed, cast, colored and illuminated), Charles’ innovative ideas were expressed through his passion for unusual situations and unpredictable art forms.
As an artist, Charles also worked in metal and cast paper.

Many of Charles’ art experiences were created as “conceptual art in a public theater.” As a high school student he welded the front ends of two Model A Ford cars together. “Believe It Or Not by Ripley” featured his car as “the first two way automobile.” CBS filmed a clever car-chasing newsreel, which concluded with a policeman at each end of the car issuing a traffic ticket. In 1984, Charles officially ran for president of the United States as a way to publicize his strong belief in equal rights for all citizens. During seven years at Delta College, Charles took students to Detroit. The students became “larger than life size Winter Spirits” when wearing their own 10 feet tall creations. Charles, adorned in his own spirit representing spring, would lead a “Spirits of the Equinox” procession through the Renaissance Center to “melt away winter and welcome in spring.”

Charles Breed was known for his creativity, passion and obsessive attention to detail in his art and environments. In 1992, these characteristics were the impetus behind the development of Dahlia Hill Society. This is a volunteer based nonprofit organization, which plants and maintains over 3000 dahlia tubers and flowers annually. On permanent display at Dahlia Hill are the seven-foot tall, cast aluminum sculptures that Charles created representing the four annual seasons, which are aligned with four stages of life. (The above images include Charles at these four stages in his life and the original concept designs for the “Seasons of Life” sculptures.)

Larue and Eda (Ayars) Breed became parents to Charles Ayars Breed on January 31, 1927. Charles is survived by his daughters Crisann Breed (R. Erick Johnson), Suzann (David) Middleton; grandchildren Annalise (Joseph) Koffa, Bjorn Johnson, Ian and Aren Middleton; great grandson Elif Koffa; and his brother Sterling (Betty) Breed. His remarkable wife, Ester K. Breed, predeceased him in October 2017.

Charles died on June 30, 2018, at age 91. The family wishes to thank the incredible in-home caregivers and hospice team, whose care allowed Charles to maintain his rich life in his home of 63 years, until his last day. With the support of Smith-Miner Funeral Home, Charles was cremated at Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services in Stillwater, Minnesota. Charles chose this setting for the alkaline hydrolysis “Green Cremation” process and Prairie Style architecture. Charles’ cremains, along with those of his wife Ester, will be spread in the Dahlia Hill Society Memorial Circle on the Autumnal Equinox.

Much of Charles’ art is permanently displayed at Equiline Museum, adjacent to Dahlia Hill. Additional
information about his art, commissions, and awards is located at www. dahliahill.org. (See Museum, Artwork and Charles Breed). Donations in his honor can be made to Dahlia Hill Society or in support of his art, to the Equiline Museum at 1320 W. Main Street, Midland, Michigan.

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