Not many people can lay claim to being a decorated U.S. Military veteran; an accomplished business finance professional; an innovative real estate owner; a proud father who gives back to his community; and someone who’s been fortunate enough to spend the last 53 years of his life married to his wife and best friend. But that’s exactly who Lee Breton is, and he doesn’t take a moment for granted!
As a young man, Lee decided to take a path that many men of his generation did after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Then after four quick years of excitement, service, and traveling the world, he decided to return home to Maine to get married and raise a family with his high school sweetheart, Diane. “I didn’t really have a solid plan for work. I only knew at the time that I wanted something different for myself,” he said.
Then Lee, a soon-to-be, first-generation college graduate, was out for coffee one morning and fortuitously bumped into the President of Thomas College. After a quick discussion about the benefits of his G.I. Bill, they had another meeting; Lee applied to Thomas; and the next thing he knew, he was a full-time Terrier. “I always liked working with numbers and was interested in business finance. I knew that Thomas would give me the tools to follow my passion,” said Lee.
After graduation, Lee was hired at Bates Manufacturing as a project manager, where he worked for decades. After a few years with Bates, Lee decided to start investing in real estate on weekends, a hobby which quickly grew into a side business for him. “I loved my job there (Bates Manufacturing) – it provided well for my family and positioned me to set up a side hustle that paid dividends.”
Along the way, Lee and Diane had several children, one of whom is their son Mark who graduated from Thomas in 1994. As the years moved on, Lee maintained his real estate business and rental properties as he transitioned into the role of Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Winslow. “It was just a good move for me; I loved the community, and it enabled me to spend more time with my wife and children.”
When asked what advice Lee has for tomorrow’s Thomas graduates, he says, “Just keep working hard. You’ve gotten the biggest piece out of the way. Ninety-five percent of the success I achieved in life came from an educational foundation that was built for me at Thomas. That education changed my life and my family’s life. It opened doors that would otherwise have remained shut, and it helped me build a life with my family that was literally the American Dream!”