Dr. Kenneth Breeden, who helped found the Technical College System of Georgia and served as president of Lanier Tech in Hall County from 1975 to 1984, died Dec. 14 at his home in Dawsonville at 77.
A memorial service for Breeden will be held at the Ramsey Conference Center at Lanier Tech’s new campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, which would have been Breeden’s 78th birthday.
According to his obituary provided by Ingram Funeral Home in Cumming, Breeden worked with four governors to unify the separately operated “vo-tech schools” around the state into what has become the Technical College System of Georgia.
In December 1983, Gov. Joe Frank Harris created the Board of Postsecondary Vocational Education, and the next year appointed Breeden as its executive director.
Breeden had long established himself as a promoter and producer of economic and workforce development education, and coordinating the growth of vocational schools was a passion.
“I really believe this entire system, including Lanier Tech, is certainly a part of his legacy,” said Dr. Ray Perren, current president of Lanier Tech.
Breeden’s legacy was honored when his name was added to the administration building on the college’s new campus in Gainesville, which opens for classes later this month.
Remembering Dr. Kenneth Breeden
What: Memorial for former Lanier Technical College president
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26
Where: Ramsey Conference Center, Hall County campus of Lanier Technical College, 2535 Lanier Tech Drive in Gainesville
Perren said Breeden was the “rare individual” with the foresight to identify and respond to growing needs, a man who could implement a vision.
During the Zell Miller administration, Breeden worked to add the HOPE Grant for technical institutes as part of the new lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship program.
During the Roy Barnes administration, Breeden authored the language in a law that authorized technical institutes to become colleges.
Perren said Breeden helped develop Lanier Tech’s core mission, which includes standard educational credits, adult education and continuing education programs.
“I had the good fortune to know him,” Perren said.
And though retired for some years, “He stayed very involved, particularly with our adult education program,” Perren added.
Breeden volunteered for many years on the board of the Reading Education Association of Dawson, or READ, to promote literacy, and most recently served on the planning commission for the city of Dawsonville.
Breeden received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1965; his Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1967; and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University in 1977.
Breeden’s obituary notes that his devotion to education and professionalism did not hinder his love and duty to his family.
He was an avid hiker, often spending time on the trail with his three beloved children.
Elizabeth Mitchell, director of community relations at Ingram Funeral Home, said Breeden was a neighbor.
“He loved hiking and he would take his grown children and they would go on hikes through the Appalachian Trail,” she said.
And Mitchell would sometimes see Breeden traversing on old golf courses with a big walking stick like he was cutting trail.
“You could tell it was Ken from so far away because of his silhouette,” Mitchell said.
Breeden is survived by his wife, Gerri Breeden of Dawsonville; son, Kenneth Michael (Barbara) Breeden of Orange Park, Fla., and daughter Stacy Breeden (Shannon Lee) O’Quinn of Ridgeland, S.C., and son, Matthew Clay Breeden of Brookhaven; grandchildren, Christopher Michael (Sharon) Breeden, and Austin Morgan O’Quinn; and sisters, Nancy Faulkner and Carole Dwyer.
The family has requested, in lieu of flowers, that contributions be made to the Kenneth H. Breeden Scholarship, Lanier Technical College Foundation, 2535 Lanier Tech Drive, Gainesville, Georgia 30507, or to a similar scholarship through the foundation at any of the technical colleges around the state.