A Superhero Dad

Posted on June 19, 2015   |   

This blog post was written by COPD Advocate, Dawn Snider.

William (Bill) Brezinski was my father. He was born and raised in Chicago, IL by his divorced father. He lived with his two brothers, Lynn and Bruce. His mother remarried and had three other children, Gloria, Dennis and Lucy. All three of his brothers preceded him in death. He decided to enlist in the Army on November 22, 1963. He was sent home because the president had just been shot. He came back the next day and signed up. That was the start of a 20 year career. My parents met in August of 1969 and were married on October 2, 1969. They were married for 44 years. My brother, Bryan and I were their only children. After retirement my dad began a career with the Maricopa Sheriff’s Department as a correction officer. In 1998 he had to leave his job due to his health. He was diagnosed with COPD and a serious heart condition. The medication he had to take to stabilize his heart made his COPD worse. He had been a heavy smoker and was exposed to Agent Orange in the Army. He also worked as a mechanic in poorly ventilated garages. On June 11, 2014 (his 68th birthday) he passed away from complications related to his COPD.

Father's Day I often refer to my dad as my superhero. He was a good husband and loved my mother very much. He was an amazing friend. At every base my dad would take a few of the single guys under his wing and bring them home for holidays. He was a great dad. Just before he passed away he asked me if I thought his was a good dad. I asked him if he thought he was a better father than his father. He said “Hell, yes!” and my response was, well there you go, you win! He was a fantastic grandfather. He was so good with my oldest son and my nephew that my husband wanted to name our second son after him. He drove my oldest son to and from school every day until he started the fourth grade. He had a special relationship each one of his four grandsons.

It’s hard to say what my favorite memory of dad is because there are so many. We were incredibly close. There was the time he was away for month training and he surprised me at school. Maybe the time he took my brother and me for a ride in a tank. Or when he taught me how to drive a 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon with 3 off the tree. It could be when he walked me down the aisle. No… It’s the time he held his first grandchild, my son Brandon. He had the biggest smile! That’s the best one… I think.

Father's Day When my dad became ill I was so concerned about his heart that I didn’t give his COPD a second thought. I was with him in the emergency room when he went into respiratory distress and had to be ventilated. That single moment has changed my life forever. I began having panic attacks and my depression was almost unmanageable. I began to do research but my fear would stop me. Whenever we were together I would stare at his chest to make sure he was breathing. As the years went by his exacerbations starting coming more often. He spent most of 2014 in the hospital or in a rehab center before he passed away. I find it appalling on how little federal funding COPD research gets.

This terrible, ugly disease has taken the life of my super hero, made my mother a widow and left my children without their grandfather. I can’t stand by and do nothing. This is why I’m organizing a charity dinner. It’s a ‘Stache Bash in honor of my dad; he had to shave his mustache when he started using oxygen. The nasal cannula pulled it. I’m hoping to make this a yearly fundraiser. I have set up a website, Facebook page and a twitter account for Bill Brezy’s Breathe Easy Team. I will not stop until federal funding has increased by 300%.


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  • What a wonderful tribute to your father, Dawn -- this is just a lovely way to remember him this Father's Day. Thank you for your dedication to helping people like your father (I just love the name of your charity dinner -- it's just perfect!) Thanks for sharing this with us.