Death silences toast of noted businessman while family mourns
Clock stops in hallway as Hyman Breslin borne to grave
Jewish philanthropist years ago had vision of passing of wife’s mother
With his life hanging by so slender a thread that death resulted an hour later, laughing and joking with his family, who had gathered at his bedside, Hyman Breslin, 59-year-old shirt manufacturer, died late Saturday afternoon at the Toronto General Hospital.
Five years ago he suffered a small cut in a finger. Blood poisoning set in and despite the efforts of physicians, septicaemia brought about death five years almost to the day after the accident happened.
Crowding the small room in which lay his cot were the ten sons and daughters of his first wife, and Mrs. Rose Breslin, his second wife.
“Trinken Lacheim!” — “Let me drink to your health!” he suggested as death neared. Not a tear came to his eye, as his son poured him out a drink of a tonic brandy from the bottle which rested on the table beside his hospital bed.
“Lacheim!” He repeated the word which means so much to a Hebrew. Smilingly he lifted the glass, and with a gesture toward his son who had spent a vigil of seven days and seven nights beside the stricken father, he drank his last drink.
“Lacheim!” answered the son, trying hard to keep back the tears. “Lacheim!” repeated his wife, and nine other children as they bowed their heads in prayer. Sixty minutes later he died.
One by one he called his children to him and gave them his blessing. And to each he gave a morsel of advice.
“Stick to business,” he remarked when his son, Samuel, asked a blessing from the father whom he loved.
“During my highest temperature I kept thinking of you and the shirts,” he smiled as his relative and business associate H. Patternick [Papernick], knelt beside the bed.
“Take a trip to Florida as soon as you are better. I’ll pay for it,” suggested a daughter. “No,” he slowly answered, each word coming with an effort. “It’s not to Florida I’m going, and where I go you need no money.”
With a broad smile on his face he said, “To-morrow I quit acting, and become one of the audience. To-day I shall enjoy myself with you, my children.”
When he came to say good-by to his youngest daughter Aileen, he tried to raise himself up to kiss her, but the effort was too much for him. He sank back exhausted.
“I’m proud of you. I thank you for what you’ve done for me,” he said, as he placed his hand on the forehead of his son, Dr. R. H. Breslin of Williston, North Dakota. Those were his last words.
It was in bed early Christmas morning that he said he had a vision. Speaking as much to himself as to his daughter Aileen and his son Rube — Dr. R. H. Breslin — who were the only persons with him at the time, he told them of the death of his wife’s mother.
“There’s Rose’s mother dying,” he said. “She has no sister . . . no brother . . . no father . . . no mother . . . she’s dying . . .”
The following morning the family awoke to learn that Mrs. Miriam Jane Greensweig had died at exactly four o’clock in the morning. On checking the nurse’s report, Dr. Breslin proved to his own satisfaction that it was exactly 3.50 when his father had uttered the prophetic words.
That incident was followed y another the day following the death of Mr. Breslin.
On Sunday morning as the casket was being borne from the family residence, it was carried past an old grandfather clock which had stood for many years in the hallway.
At 11:57, the very moment the casket passed through the front door, the clock stopped the first time since it had been purchased many years ago. Nor could anyone have opened the door of the case and stopped it, for all about it was piled paraphernalia hastily thrown there by persons attending the funeral. Immediately in front was a heavy chair that could have been moved only with difficulty.
Cared for Refugees
Mr. Breslin was born in Russia and came to Toronto in 1892. For the past 29 years he has headed Breslin Bros., a shirt manufacturing concern which recently changed its name to the Premier Shirt Co. He was one of the original founder of the McCaul Street synagogue, and was noted for his philanthropical works.
In 1904, when the Russo-Japanese war was in progress, 500 Jewish Cossack refugees (sic) fled Siberia to Toronto and were looked after by Mr. Breslin. They were fed, clothed and housed by him until such time as they established themselves in various industries. One of these men is now the president of a well-known Ottawa steel and iron works.
Rabbi Jacob Gordon and Rabbi Bert Treiger officiated at the funeral. The body was interred at the McCaul Street synagogue cemetery. ♦
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Obit: Riva Breslin, age 28
From the Toronto Daily Star, October 26, 1918
The funeral took place privately yesterday of Mrs. Reva Breslin, wife of Dr. Louis J. Breslin, from her late residence, 405 Dundas street west.
Deceased was 28 years of age and a victim of pneumonia, following an illness of about two weeks. In patriotic and philanthropic work the deceased was one of the most active members of the local Jewish community. She was secretary of the Toronto Haddassah Society and a delegate of the Canadian order. She was also a leader in Red Cross work among the local Jewish women. About 12 years ago she came to Toronto from Rochester with her parents.
The late Mrs. Breslin was an accomplished singer, and at the time of her death was a member of the National Chorus. She was a daughter of Rabbi Nathanson of this city. ♦