Remembering Businessman and Philanthropist DeLight Breidegam, Jr.
Berks County, Pennsylvania, businessman and philanthropist DeLight E. Breidegam, Jr., along with his wife Helen, have been faithful in their philanthropy to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), beginning when they responded to the “Building in Faith for People of Faith” campaign with a significant pledge toward the construction of The Brossman Learning Center. They continued their philanthropy to LTSP with gifts to the Leadership Fund, and in 2010 they made a $1 million pledge to lead the funding for the Library Connector, now in construction with expected completion of February 2016. Mr. Breidegam died September 9, 2015, at the age of 88.
The connector was originally to be named “The Timothy M. Breidegam Library Connector” in remembrance of their son Timothy, who died in 1978 at age 21. Following the tragic death of their daughter, Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz, after being hit by a truck while jogging in 2014, the family was planning to change the name of the connector to remember both children. At the time of her death, she was CEO of East Penn.
A graduate of Gettysburg College and veteran of World War II, DeLight Breidegam, Jr., returned from his service in the Army Air Corps and, with his father, DeLight Breidegam, Sr., started what would become East Penn Manufacturing, a maker of batteries and now the second largest employer in Berks County with some 7,000 employees in Berks County and 8,000 worldwide. Breidegam told the Reading Eagle in a 2008 interview that he grew up humbly, and attributed the company’s success to its dedicated and hard-working employees. “I like to go in the plant, pat a guy on the back and tell him he’s doing a hell of a job through us,” he told the Eagle. “and if he makes me some money, I’ll share it with him.”
Breidegam’s sharing extended to his philanthropy. He joined the board of trustees of Moravian College, which was attended by two of his children and three grandchildren in 1978, where he led the campaigns to fund the Timothy M. Breidegam Track at Steel Field and the Timothy M. Breidegam Fieldhouse and also established the Helen S. Breidegam R.N. Scholarship Fund in honor of his wife, the Timothy M. Breidegam Scholarship Fund in memory of their son, and the Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz Scholarship Fund in memory of their daughter. He was granted Life Trustee status in 2007.
Breidegam and his wife also served on the board of Kutztown University and Lutheran Home at Topton, and in 2012 gave $2 million to Lehigh Valley Health Network in their son Timothy’s memory to develop the hospital system’s endowed chair in neurology to support research and education. Breidegam has been recognized by numerous community and industry organizations, as well as for his support for the military and veterans.
Breidegam is predeceased by his daughter Sally S. Miksiewicz and son Timothy M. Breidegam; also sisters, Dorothy S. (Breidegam) Sholedice and Faith F. (Breidegam) Himmelreich. He is survived by his wife, Helen S. Breidegam, Oley; his son, Daniel D. Breidegam, husband of Mary J. (Reilly), Oley; and grandchildren Timothy R., Daniel D., Katelyn S., and Matthew J. Miksiewicz, Oley: Mortimer L., husband of Sara (Brasted) Smedley, Kutztown; Gemma T. Smedley, Oley; and great-grandchildren Anna, Reilly, and Logan. Born in Fleetwood, he was a son of the late DeLight R., Sr., and Helen M. (Fenstermacher) Breidegam.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service was held on September, 20, 2015. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to Moravian College, c/o Gary Carney, Institutional Advancement, Moravian College, 1200 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018; or gifts may be made online – in the appropriate box, please indicate that the gift is in memory of DeLight Breidegam. These gifts will go to support a new Health Sciences building that DeLight and Helen had expressed a desire to name after their daughter Sally.
Here’s a slide show of the Connector construction to date:
Click here to go to the photo gallery.