Class of 1974
On September 9th 1979, my brother as a member of the Pleasant Hills Borough Police Department, was responding to a call that two boys were trapped at the bottom of a 20ft deep sink whole. Alby was one of the first to the scene. He descended into the shaft and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation to one of the fallen boys. Abruptly he grasped for air and fell unconscious to the ground. More men and material arrived on the scene but it was to late to save Alby and the boys as they all succumbed to a deadly accumulation of carbon dioxide. Below is a speech that I wrote for Alby commemorating the 25th anniversary of his death.
As we sat in the intensive care emergency room of Jefferson Hospital, surrounded by our family and friends, the Doctors came into the room and gave us the grave news. Alby was not going to live…….
Now the emergency room was packed, it was overflowing with friends, family, aunts, uncles, neighbors, priests, nuns, kids, nurses, doctors, police, paramedics, old coaches, new girlfriends, old girlfriends, teachers… people we didn’t even know…The entire community had come to say prayers for Alby----that’s just how many people he had effected in his short but robust life.
So as I look back I started remembering all the things that made Alby special and brought these people to the ER that night
I remember Alby being very responsible and hard working as he had a paper route starting in 2nd grade – his route was Gill Hall and Waterman Roads...alot of the people in the room that night were former customers.
I remember Alby being a tremendous artist taking classes at Carnegie Museum as a kid and then drawing pictures for my mom..
I remember Alby being the leader of the neighborhood kids always wanting to have fun…
I remember Alby being an Alter Boy serving every Mass/Funeral and or Wedding there was…
I remember Alby loving Christmas not because of the gifts he received, but because of what he gave; year in and year out buying every single one of his 8 brothers and sisters great presents.
I remember one year he bought my mom an electric knife. We all thought that was the greatest present ever…….
I remember washing the Nun’s cars every Saturday with Alby.
remember playing football in the living room with Alby and him breaking all 3 lamps.
I remember the girls loved Alby ..lying in our bedroom one night around midnight as 2 girls came crashing into the room diving on the bed…..on top of Alby.
I remember Alby telling my parents as a teenager not to worry as he would take care of them once he got a job.
I remember Alby being on the Jefferson Pool Swim Team – wearing a Speedo…….ugh…….
I remember Albie's Football team his Senior year going 8-1 being the only team in the Big Ten to beat Joe Montana.
I remember Alby throwing the best parties—especially the Christmas ones……
I remember Alby being voted best personality and nicest smile by his Senior class.
I remember Alby being a member of the National Honor Society.
I remember Alby paying his way through Pitt by working in the Steel Mill.
I remember Alby becoming a Para Medic.
I remember Alby always helping everyone…..
I remember Alby always smiling….always!
I remember Alby graduating first in his class at the Police Academy.
I remember Albie's great Police partner, Joe Kenney.
I remember Alby loving kids…
I remember Alby dying……………
I remember everyone crying………………
I remember all the letters we received- let me read you some
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Breisinger,
I am writing to extend my sympathy to you in your time of sorrow. As an employee of Jefferson Hospital, I’ve seen many Patients but none as beautiful as your son.
There was something very special about him from the moment he came into the hospital. I hope it will comfort you to know that the first night he was in intensive care I could feel the presence of God in his room. It was a warm, beautiful peaceful presence.
I became very attached to Alby in those four days & I know he is someone special.
Dear Breisinger Family,
Words are so difficult but though awkward, so necessary to say how we feel shocked, still stunned and so saddened. We all loved Alby and we want you to know our prayers have been and will continue reaching out to you who loved and taught and nurtured him with such tender loving care…
We feel it a great honor to have known Alby – his talent, courage, faith, beauty, love and service.
Dear Breisinger Family,
When I was younger, growing into my identity I asked Alby why he was always smiling and happy. He said a great part of it was because of his love for his family. It took me years to realize what he knew so young!
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Breisinger,
Sixteen years ago, I began my teaching career at Gill Hall School. One of the bright and shining faces in that 3rd grade class belonged to Albert. No beginning teacher could have asked for a better class….You can imagine my shock when I heard about Albert…We are all here on earth to perform a mission. With the generous donation of his eyes and kidneys, I guess one of Albert's missions was to help provide a richer fuller life to four people. Really though for many more through his quick smile and kind words.. I can remember him being so quiet (most of the time) and so eager to learn- yet loving to play a trick on someone, especially his teacher. and I loved every minute of it.
Dear Lois and Al,
We wanted to let you know, more than a card could say, how we , in a small way , share your sorrow. Each time we saw Alby drive down our street in the patrol car, or passed him, we felt great pride. Knowing the way you raised your children, we felt secure with Alby being one of our officers. He was very special to us, having known him so long and we will miss him. A link in a lovely family chain has been removed.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Breisinger,
Since the Middle School opened in 1965 and up to now, the Breisingers have been an outstanding family in our school district. Your young adults are intelligent and good citizens.
You are the setting for many jewels. Very sadly you just lost one of these jewels. Al was in my English class when he was in 7th grade. I remember how hard he tried to please and how appealing and friendly he was. Evidently he never changed…
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Breisinger,
Our family offers to your family our love and prayers. May I tell you that the relationship your son, Alby had with the young boys on our street was exceptional. He was a policeman who was authority…. but also much like one of the boys. He was respected …and welcomed and I thank God he touched our lives.
Dear Al and Lois,
All the years our children were growing up they talked about the Breisingers – they somehow saw your family as a little different and in some way special. Perhaps stronger and filled with greater faith. Our children respected your family and looked up to all of your children, especially Alby in his position as eldest son. I have wanted to tell you how they grieved for him. Our youngest could only say “ Oh no not Alby. He was so Christian.”
The meaning that I took from the grief that our family felt and that was expressed in the outpouring of love and support that I saw, was that Albie's life was a gift to the community and that his death was a consequence of his life…… That he would lay it down for others.
I think he was a model to the young people in the community during his life, and a hero in his death, at a time when kids desperately need models and heroes. When so many of their heroes are not heroes at all and when so many of the influences on them are so destructive.
That’s what I remember – A great community pulling together doing anything they could to console my Parents and our family..
And then I remember not long after Albie’s death a lady coming up to our house. Knocking on the front door she greeted my Parents, looked them right in the eye and said, “I want to thank you as I have been blind for the past 3 years but now I can see because of your son”……..and she looked them right in the eye…
That’s what I remember----- but if you remember anything from today it’s that Alby became a hero because of the way he lived….not because of the way he died.
ps Alby's football jersey (#62) was retired after the 2004 season. He is the only number ever retired in TJ sports history. Also if you are ever in Washington DC make sure you go to the Policemans hall of fame. You will see his name on the monumnent.
Honoring Our Heroes
This area is dedicated to our alumni that have served or are serving in our armed forces!
Lost Class Rings
Have you lost your Thomas Jefferson High School class ring? Have you found someone's class ring? Visit our Jaguars lost class ring page to search for your class ring or post information about a found ring.