Ron Breeding is joining Nemours Health Services

By Lynn R. Parks

Long-time city of Seaford employee Ron Breeding has announced his retirement. He plans to go to work for Nemours Health and Prevention Services, which is an outreach program of Nemours, a nonprofit organization dedicated to children's health and health care. Nemours owns the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children for Wilmington and started Nemours Health and Prevention Services, based in Newark, to pioneer new approaches to encourage children's wellbeing and to fight growing childhood obesity and diabetes. "This is quite a challenge, but is a very exciting time," said Breeding. "Sussex County is one of three or four test sites in the country and this is our opportunity to lead the rest of the nation" in reducing childhood obesity and diabetes. According to Nemours, 35 percent of children in today's United States are overweight, more than double what that percentage was 20 years ago. The organization is pushing its "5, 2, 1, almost none" program: five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, two or fewer hours of television and computer time a day, one or more hours of physical activity a day and almost no sugary drinks like sodas and sports drinks. John Hollis, director of community relations for Nemours Health and Prevention Services, said that Breeding's experience working for the city of Seaford and with various civic groups is very valuable. "I am real excited about the tremendous breadth and depth of experience that Ron brings," Hollis said. "He is totally committed to the community and to making the community better." Breeding has been involved in children's sports since 1972, when he worked for a summer parks and recreation program in Harrisonburg, Va., while earning his master's degree at James Madison University. He was working toward being a school administrator but "I decided that parks and recreation was what I really wanted to do," he said. In 1974, he came to Seaford to work for the Seaford Civic Association of Recreation, a private organization that was the forerunner to the city of Seaford Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1978, the association was made a department of the city and Breeding started his employment with city government. In 1980, he was made the city's administrative assistant and in 1983 was named assistant city manager. When city hall offices were shuffled in 2001, he became the director of facilities and parks.

"He has touched a lot of lives," said city manager Dolores Slatcher. "The list of his accomplishments is long, and that's just talking about the material things. That's not even counting the civic and personal contributions he has made." Slatcher said that the city "can give him full credit" for its parks and recreation program. "It was truly a one-man operation when it was started," added Breeding. "I did everything, even dragging the baseball fields." "When you look around the city, you can see a lot of his handiwork," said Slatcher. He was instrumental in development of the sports complex, the new boat ramp and the industrial and business parks, she added. Breeding graduated from Greenwood High School in 1966 and from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, W.Va., in 1970 with a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education and physical education. He taught in high school for two years then returned to school to earn his master's degree in educational administration from James Madison. Breeding's wife, Sue, is retiring from the Woodbridge School District in June after 30 years as a physical education teacher. They have two sons, Chris, 27, Greenwood, who works for Greenwood-area farmer Sam Yoder, and Steve, 25, who works at Hoobers, Seaford, and is studying general agriculture at the University of Delaware, Georgetown. Breeding said that after nearly 30 years working for the city of Seaford, he is leaving with mixed emotions. But he is excited about the prospect of being involved in teaching parents about ways to keep their children healthy. "We have to get people to change the way they think," said Breeding, who is diabetic. "People say that that is impossible, but several years ago, no one thought there would be seat belt laws or laws banning smoking. This is not a lost cause."

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