GREENFIELD — When Larry Breese first considered a run for Greenfield clerk-treasurer more than two decades ago, he wrote out a list of the pros and cons for pursuing the job.
He weighed whether to leave his career as a salesman, which he had spent 20 years building, for a municipal government position that didn’t come with any guarantee of a long-term job.
Still, serving the city he was born and raised in as its chief financial officer would be rewarding, he thought at the time. And after four years on the city council, for which he served as the budget chairman, it seemed like a natural progression.
He already had established a career at which he was successful, and there was no guarantee he’d win the election since he had challengers in both the primary and general elections. Still, serving as one of Greenfield’s top officials seemed like something he would enjoy – the pros outweighed the cons — so he decided to throw his hat in the ring.
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He first took office Jan. 1, 1996. Now, nearly 20 years after Breese, 66, started his first term, he’s preparing to retire. The last two decades for Breese’s friends and colleagues have been shaped by a man they say has always been a reliable, supportive force at city hall, whose extensive knowledge of the city’s finances made it easier for others to do their jobs. He recognized others’ needs and stepped in to help, especially when a fellow city official was new to a position.
His fifth term ends Dec. 31, when clerk-treasurer-elect Lori Elmore, who ran unopposed in the primary and general elections for the seat after Breese chose not to pursue a sixth term, steps in.
Breese ran successfully five times, three of which he was unopposed, for the position that oversees Greenfield’s finances and keeps record of the city council proceedings, ordinances and city documents and books. This year, he oversaw a $15.6 million budget and earned about $62,000.
Breese’s 20-year career, in which he worked with five mayors — Patricia Elmore, Rodney Fleming, Brad DeReamer, Richard Pasco and Chuck Fewell — has been marked by excellence, his colleagues say, and he’ll be sorely missed at city hall.
Now, as he prepares to leave his office on State Street for the last time, Breese reflects on his career, which he’s stepping away from with no regrets, he said.
“This job has been everything I thought it would be,” Breese said. “It’s been the most enjoyable run.”
While he awaits his final days in office — an app on his phone is keeping track for when people ask him how many days remain — he’s teaching and guiding Elmore all he can.
She feels prepared to take over the office but recognizes it’s a tall order replacing Breese, she said; Breese has 20 years of knowledge and wisdom, and he’ll be missed.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Elmore said. “His knowledge and wisdom is irreplaceable … even though I’ve been elected to replace him.”
Lori Elmore, daughter of Pat Elmore, the first mayor Breese worked alongside as clerk-treasurer, said he’s been the best mentor and boss, sentiments other local officials have echoed.
Hancock County Clerk Marcia Moore worked for Breese for 16 years as a payroll deputy before being elected to office. In the beginning of her term, Breese offered a lot of support, she said, mentoring her in her new job even after she left hers at city hall.
And when Mayor Fewell took office in late 2013, replacing the late Mayor Pasco, Breese helped him get on his feet, too, Fewell said.
“He’s been such an asset for me from the beginning,” he said. “Larry was the mentor I needed.”
During his tenure, Breese has had a lot to be proud of, his colleagues say. His work has been recognized by several statewide awards and honors. In 2010, he received the financial management excellence award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns for outstanding achievements in fiscal management, financial recording and leadership in public service.
According to the association, Breese demonstrated a significant commitment to his community throughout his tenure on both the Greenfield City Council and as clerk-treasurer; he’s known for pursuing continuing education and training to ensure proper financial management procedures are always a priority.
Additionally, he served as president of the Indiana League of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers, which offers educational information and opportunities to clerks and clerk-treasurers across the state, in 2008 and 2009.
And last week, he was honored with a Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the state’s highest honors bestowed to distinguished Hoosiers by the governor.
Breese said his success, however, isn’t all his own. He’s worked alongside mayors and staff members who have made his job easier, he said.
“I’m a firm believer to be successful, you have to surround yourself with successful people,” he said. “I know a lot of successful people.”
He feels lucky to have spent the last 20 years doing a job he loves alongside people who have become family, he said.
When his term expires at the end of the month, he’ll miss the citizens and staff the most, but he’s looking forward to retirement with his wife of 43 years, Roberta, who retired from teaching about four years ago.
The couple looks forward to traveling freely: they’ll likely spend time in Florida during the winter months, and Breese wants to tour Route 66, a main U.S. highway that runs through the United States.
His wife has never been to New York; they plan to spend some time there, too.
He expects he’ll find a hobby or two to keep him busy, but for the first six months or so, he plans to take time to adjust to retirement and enjoy the quiet after 20 busy years at city hall.
“I’ve been blessed to have … a charmed life and career,” he said. “I have no regrets.”
Greenfield Clerk-treasurer Larry Breese is one of several longtime elected officials leaving office this month. Others include:
- Marla Kemmerly, Shirley Clerk-treasurer, 20 years of service
- Jason Horning, Greenfield City Council, 12 years
- Greg Carwein, eight years of service
- Ron Stafford, Fortville Town Council, eight years of service
Greenfield Clerk-treasurer Larry Breese’s fifth term expires Dec. 31, when he’ll retire from city hall.
Here’s a look at his career.
1991 – Elected to an at-large seat on the Greenfield City Council
1995 – Elected as Greenfield’s clerk-treasurer
1999 – Elected to a second term as Greenfield’s clerk-treasurer
2003 — Wins third term as Greenfield’s clerk-treasurer
2007 — Wins fourth term as Greenfield’s clerk-treasurer
2008-2009 — Serves as president of the Indiana League of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers
2010 — Receives the financial management excellence award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns
2011 — Wins fifth and final term as Greenfield clerk-treasurer
2015 — Receives a Sagamore of the Wabash award
GREENFIELD — At his last city council meeting as Greenfield clerk-treasurer, Larry Breese was honored with the Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the state’s highest honors, which recognizes people who have made a lasting impact to better the state of Indiana.
The honor is bestowed by only the governor and was first established by former Gov. Ralph Gates nearly 70 years ago.
“Sagamore” comes from the American Indiana Tribes of the northeastern United States, who used it to describe a man among the tribe who the chief looked to for wisdom and advice.
Each governor since Gates has personally selected recipients for the award; there’s no record of the total number of Sagamores given.
Mayor Chuck Fewell presented Breese with the award on behalf of Gov. Mike Pence last week.
Breese has served as clerk-treasurer for 20 years. Additionally, he served on city council for four years, was a volunteer firefighter and has been involved in several civic groups.
He retires Dec. 31, when his fifth and final term expires.
Other Hancock County residents who have been awarded Sagamores include former Mayor Pat Elmore, local philanthropist Fred Keen and former State Sen. Beverly Gard.
Source: State of Indiana