Robert W. Breiling, 91, electrical engineer

Robert W. Breiling
Robert W. Breiling
Posted: May 18, 2014

Robert W. Breiling, 91, of Malvern, a World War II veteran and electrical engineer, died Thursday, May 1, of liver failure at Phoenixville Hospital's hospice unit.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he studied at Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., in the late 1940s and earned a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1953.

He volunteered for the Army Air Forces and served from 1944 to 1946 as a B-17 pilot, flying bombing missions over Kolin, Czechoslovakia. He logged 400 hours as a B-17 pilot.

He also flew seven missions to drop packages of food over Amsterdam. The Dutch were starving because the surrounding German forces had wrecked the dikes to cripple the country's economy.

The resulting flood left the tulip crop almost underwater, Mr. Breiling told his son, Charles E.

When the grateful residents of one town wanted to communicate with Mr. Breiling from the ground, they waded into the fields and tramped down some of the standing tulips. The submerged areas formed the words "Thanks Yanks" and "Many thanks."

Mr. Breiling saw the messages from the air and took a snapshot, which his son still has.

Mr. Breiling returned to civilian life to complete his college studies, which had been interrupted by the war. He started out as an engineer with General Electric Co. in 1948 in Schenectady, then moved to Philadelphia to join the GE Reentry Space Division.

The bulk of his work was in helping design the guidance systems for ICBM warheads during the Cold War. Before GPS technology was invented, the missiles were guided with gyroscopes. The missiles were never deployed.

Mr. Breiling left GE in 1981 for RCA PRICE Systems in Cherry Hill. He was a regional sales manager, marketing the parametric cost analysis program. The program is used to estimate the costs of a product or project by quantifying its attributes.

RCA was then purchased by GE. Mr. Breiling retired from GE in January 1992 after almost 44 years of service to the two companies.

In retirement, Mr. Breiling kept in touch with other GE retirees. He also became active in military history groups, speaking about his World War II experiences.

For the last 50 years, he was a member of St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Chester Springs. He helped raise funds for the Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Besides his son, he is survived by his wife of 58 years, Anne Merrill Breiling; daughters Grace Breiling Merryman, Margaret Jean, and Leila Breiling Page; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 17, at St. Peter's United Church of Christ, 1193 Clover Mill Rd., Chester Springs. A visitation starts at 10 a.m. Interment is private.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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