Prentiss Cook Breland
December 31, 1937 - November 15, 2022
Prentiss Cook Breland of Nyack, New York, a brilliant inventor and Renaissance man, as well as a beloved father, family member, partner, and friend, died on November 15, 2022, at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York. He was 84 years old. A colorful character with an unquenchable and youthful zest for life, Prentiss was born on December 31, 1937, in New York City to Homer Hargrove Breland and Dorothy Neuman Cook, both successful Ivy League attorneys and unique individuals in their own right. His family moved to Nyack in 1940, where they lived in a beautiful home on the Hudson River. Prentiss spent most summers in the family’s cabin in the Adirondacks, where his mother taught him at a young age how to repair machinery, pilot a boat, and in general helped to develop his love for the outdoors and his innate technical abilities. Prentiss loved Nyack and, no matter where his travels took him, always considered it his home. He was graduated from Nyack High School in 1955 and attended the University of Miami for one year before returning home to marry his childhood sweetheart Carolyn Wolf and to begin a family, raising one daughter. They divorced in 1973. In 1979 he married Marion Rusciano and had a son. They divorced in 2002. Prentiss remained very close with both of his former spouses, who always considered him an important and beloved member of their families. In 2007, he met his devoted partner Judith Baier, and lived with her for the remainder of his life. Prentiss’ many gifts and talents were expressed through a variety of different professional experiences in which he excelled. He spent many of his early years inventing oceanographic equipment for Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory in Palisades, New York, and travelling around the world performing oceanographic experiments with the organization. He formed International Motorcycles in the 1960s, and was a highly successful, daredevil motorcycle racer, winning numerous trophies. He was a professional pilot and flight instructor at Ramapo Valley Airport, well-known for his extraordinary teaching ability as well as his piloting skills. He was the founder of Empire Builders, a general contracting company, and took great pride in his ability to be a “jack of all trades” in the construction field, with skills ranging from carpentry to plumbing to electrical work. For many years, he enjoyed his volunteer role playing Santa Claus at the Haverstraw Center, gaining great joy and satisfaction by making children happy. In all that he did, Prentiss always exhibited his originality, and had a sense of adventure. In his heart, he was forever a pirate, rebel, and an outlaw, and lived that to the fullest. He was authentic, original, outrageous, and unforgettable to his core. Prentiss is survived by his daughter, Carole L. Breland of Valley Cottage, New York, and her mother Carolyn; Jonathan P. Breland of Nyack New York, and his mother Marion; his partner and “sweetie” Judy Baier and his dear friend Cathey Baier. He will be deeply missed by his many lifelong friends and family members. He was pre-deceased by his brother Ronald H. Breland of West Nyack, New York, by his parents, and his beloved grandson, Ryan J. Burns.
There will be a memorial service to celebrate Prentiss’ life sometime in the summer of 2023.
To share memories or view the obituary online: