Wesley Break

Samuel Wesley Break was born on August 30th 1896 in Peabody, Kansas, the son of Alan and Cynthia (Clausen) Break. In 1898 when Wesley was two, the family moved West, living first in Pomona until 1904 when they settled in Bryn Mawr, which was then known as Redlands Junction and even earlier as Nahant. Young Wesley received his early schooling at the Old Mission School, starting in 1904, the year that the school was built. Soon after graduating from Redlands High School, Wesley enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and served during World War I.
In his adult years, Break dispensed with his first name and was known by his middle name.
Break Grew up in the orange industry. His father was a grower of oranges on an extensive scale in Bryn Mawr. At about 20 years of age, Break became the owner of his first citrus property, five acres located in Loma Linda. Before becoming associated with his father in the citrus business, he was foreman of the Bryn Mawr fruit growers association in 1920 and 1921.
Break was a member of the firm of Allen Break and Son, which owned 235 acres of citrus property in the Bryn Mawr District. They operated the only family-owned packing house in that area. The old building was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve in 1950, several years after all operations there had ended and the packing plant was dormant.
Break married Hermine Brauer, a teacher at the Redlands Junior High School, on June 22, 1921. They had two sons, Richard Allen Break and Robert Brauer Break, and lived for many years at one of their orange groves in Bryn Mawr, where he could oversee the management of his vast citrus groves.
Mr. Break was a charter member of the American Legion, Post #106. He became a member of the Redlands Elks Lodge in 1919 and was twice elected its exalted ruler, 1937-1938 and 1944-45. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, F. and A.M. and the “High Twelve” Club and was a member of the Rotary Club, which he joined in 1942. He served for five years on the Mission District School Board, serving on that board during the building of the present Mission School on California Street. The dependency unit building, which cares for the county’s dependent children, is named “Wesley Hall” in his honor.
For many years he served on the State Fire Board of the Division of Forestry and was a member of the board of directors of the Security First National Bank of Redlands, later named the Security Pacific National Bank. He was a member of the board of directors of the Bear Valley Water Company and was also a director of the Bear Valley Extension Pipeline Company. He was a long time member of the First Congregational Church of Redlands and served faithfully and well on the board of deacons. He was also a board member of the local Salvation Army Citadel.
Wesley Break was chairman of the citrus packing plant which operated at the National Orange Show for many years and marketed the fruit which was picked there for the visitors to see. This display drew much attention because it was a model of an actual packing plant, showing all operations from the grove to the transportation to market. In 1950 the San Bernardino County Fair was named in his honor. He was elected president of the 50th National Orange Show in 1965.
Wesley Break was elected to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on November 7, 1944, representing the Third District. He served as the chairman of the board from December 1952 to December 1960. During his 24 years on the board, he was elected president of the California Supervisors Association for one year and the Southern Regional Association of County Supervisors at another time. He was a member of the Board of the National Association of County Supervisors.
When Ontario Airport was threatened with closure following World War II, Break led a group of mayors of surrounding cities and other local officials to persuade the federal government that the facility would be needed in the future. That successful gambit preserved the airport, now considered a major asset to San Bernardino County.
As supervisor, Break was instrumental in obtaining $1.5 million in flood control aid from the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for the construction of the Devil’s Canyon Diversion by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which helped to protect the city of San Bernardino from devastating floods.
He was elected president of the Gold Banner Packing Company in 1965. His extensive land holdings then included 110 acres of Bryn Mawr citrus and a third interest in 1,608 acres of foothill lands.
Upon serving with distinction on the board of supervisors for six consecutive four-year terms, Break retired from public service on December 2, 1968, and with the assistance of his son Bob, looked after his citrus interests in Bryn Mawr until his death at the age of 84 on September 11, 1980. He was survived by his wife of 59 years, Hermine; sons Richard of Visalia, and Robert of Bryn Mawr, five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a sister, Leta Break Carroll, and three nieces.

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