At 87 years old, nothing slows down John Breckenridge. “I’ve never felt better!” He was born and raised in Kansas but he’s no stranger to Omaha. For 18 years, he has made his home at Immanuel Village. It has served my purposes very well. One of the reasons I stayed here is because of its affordability. The people and the staff really care about me,” said Breckenridge.
He married Opal Anderson in 1951, the love of his life, whom he met while attending York College. “She was the secretary to the Dean,” said Breckenridge. The couple had their first child while Breckenridge was stationed in Enewetak, a large coral of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean. “My son was about five months old by the time I got to see him. That was pretty tough,” said Breckenridge. He served on the joint task force and radiation decontamination team which helped carry out the first hydrogen bomb test, code-named Ivy Mike in 1952 as part of Operation Ivy. The bomb vaporized the island of Elugelab. “It was interesting. Nobody knew if it was going to work. And it did!” Breckenridge said.
While working on the islands, Breckenridge and many others were able to attend the USO show in 1952. “I was an air force escort for all of the women in the USO show. The other troops were pretty envious that we got to spend all that time with the ladies,” said Breckenridge. After his four years of military service, Breckenridge returned to Nebraska where he received degrees in secondary education and psychology. He taught elementary school for a number of years and served as the Dean of students at Hastings College before becoming the associate director of counseling at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He retired from that position after 27 years in 1997 when he and Opal moved to Omaha.
The couple has one daughter, two sons, 10 grandchildren and 10 greatgrandchildren. Sadly, Opal passed away in 2010 but Breckenridge continues to live at Immanuel Village. “Immanuel is really committed to their residents. There are other places where you don’t see that kind of commitment. Here at Immanuel you do,” said Breckenridge. And because of that, he continues to support our organization by serving on the Immanuel Affordable Board of Directors. “The foundation’s work is consistent with our Mission. Providing Christ-centered Service to Seniors, Each other and the community. And I really like that.”