Pastor Breeze – A Story of Faith & Resilience
This story was originally posted in 2018. Pastor Breeze passed away in 2020. It was our privilege to work with him in our home repair program and to tell his story.
Pastor Ralph Breeze revisits favorite memories every time he looks out into his front yard. “That dogwood tree over there is bent because my grandson used to sit on it, and I sure enjoyed watching him drive his toy car down the hill. He’d get stuck in the ditch on the bottom of the yard, and then pull the car back up and start all over.”
Mr. Breeze has led a remarkable life. His mother passed away when he 2. His big sister had made a promise to make sure he was taken care of, and she devotedly stepped in and honored this obligation. When he was 7, he discovered his talent for playing music by ear on the piano. “The kids would laugh at me,” he shared.
Fortunately, he didn’t let their derision stop him from following his heart. He continues to sing and play, particularly in church services that are held in his home. “We moved to Greenville when I was 15, and I had a cow and a mule. I’d milk the cow and plow fields with the mule. I then sold milk, butter, and vegetables in the Cripple Creek area to raise money to pay for school.”
Right after WWII, Mr. Breeze was drafted into the army. He was inducted in downtown Greenville and was stationed at Ft. Eustis, VA. Upon his release, he returned to Hillsborough where he stayed with his father for a while.
Mr. Breeze has served as a pastor in Cleveland (OH), and Anderson, Spartanburg, Easley, and Greenville, South Carolina. Not only did he endeavor to build each respective congregation, but in many instances, he held responsibility for undertaking repair and new construction projects for each building.
Mr. Breeze needed repairs inside and outside his home. The floor was rotten in his kitchen and bathroom. Mr. Breeze walks with a cane. If he fell because his floor caved in, he may not be able to get up again. If Mr. Breeze would do the repairs he needed himself, he could. “I was cleaning off neighbor’s roofs up to just a few years ago, and they [emergency services] were getting calls to ‘get that old man down before he falls’.”
Rebuild Upstate volunteers replaced the insulation in the floor, replaced the floor, and repaired soffit on the exterior of the home. These repairs will keep his home safe and warm. Mr. Breeze is thankful for repairs Rebuild Upstate volunteers completed on his behalf. As a result, roof leaks are alleviated and the chill of cold days is abated.
“The repair has definitely made my life more comfortable, and I thank God for what they did. I’m too old to do the work myself and don’t have a great deal of money coming in from outside sources. The volunteers are a blessing from the Lord.”
Nowadays, he travels to visit family, leads a church service in his home every Sunday, and will joyfully serenade visitors with a song or two. As he says, “if you sit down, you just might leave here.” Wise words from a wise man.