Maureen Breen-Putnam
Woodlawn Funeral Home
7750 West Cermak Road
Forest Park, IL
Breen-Putnam, Maureen age 62, of Riverside, passed away June 22, after a courageous 23 year battle with Breast Cancer. Beloved wife of 25 years to Dermot Putnam; dearest sister of Nancy (Patrick John) Johnson; proud aunt of Brendan, Patrick and Edward; great-aunt of Patrick Joseph and Claire Alice; God-Mother of over 40 children of many dear friends all over the world and a loving companion to Fergus her beloved French Poodle. Maureen was a French teacher at Lincoln Park High School, and in 2001 earned the Chevalier Dans l'ordre Des Palmes Academiques, the highest award from the French Government for outstanding contributions to French language and culture, and was also a Golden Apple nominee. Visitation Friday 2 to 8 PM at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 7750 W. Cermak Rd., Forest Park, as well as Saturday 8:30 AM until 9:15 AM at the funeral home proceeding to Riverside United Methodist Church for a 10 AM Funeral Service. Private interment will take place in Plummerville Cemetery, Fenville Michigan. Info: 708-442-8500 or

Published by Chicago Sun-Times on Jun. 24, 2010.
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54 Entries
I’ll always remember Maureen’s smile and how much my sister Pat Thiese Fitzgerald and my mom Jacqueline Thiese loved her.
Mary Thiese Murphy
June 18, 2021
I go to Paris every year now that I'm retired. How can I forget her sweet memory?..She always helped me improve me slipshod French. She was and is an angel.
Robert Macala
June 18, 2019
Ill always remember Maureens smile!
Miss her so much! She was such a good friend to my sister Pat Fitzgerald.
Mary B Murphy
June 18, 2019
The heavens have been blessed with another angel, and we will remember...
Thank you, Maureen
June 23, 2011
As I reflect back on the short time I knew Maureen, I realize the loss of someone special who had an positive impact on my life. We became instant friends the day Derm brought Maureen in to sing and play accordion together. Maureen, Derm and I shared many a cold winter night playing all kinds of music from Western folk songs to Cajun songs that Maureen would sing in Cajun French! I will always remember the good times we shared talking, singing, playing and laughing with such a sweet spirit. Maureen inspired me as a teacher as well and I learned the true value of teaching from her kind words of wisdom and encouragement. Her memory will continue to live through those songs and through my own teaching.
Jim Goelitz
January 2, 2011
I had the absolute pleasure of massaging Maureen for a period of time before her passing. She was the kind of person who lived and expressed herself from the core and left a lasting warm and compassionate impression. A beautiful soul inside and out.
Teri Clark
October 29, 2010
The most encouraging teacher and mentor that I have ever worked with. She was a great Department Head and a great person to talk with about creative lesson planning. To this day I still use many of her activities in my classroom. Thank you Maureen for being a super awesome individual.
Liz Villagomez
October 22, 2010
Maureen made me the French teacher I am today. I had the priviledge to work with her at LPHS, then I made my way to NYC. She is the one I called when I was applying to work as a French teacher there, and she made sure I would get the job. I am so blessed by having known her all those years, and I know she is looking on us all now, always caring for us. Bon Voyage Maureen where you are now, I will never forget you. Fiona t'embrasse.
Tiphaine Chigot-McGrath
September 27, 2010
Madame Breen was one of those fantastic teachers who's lessons stick with you far beyond the classroom. You couldn't help but be caught up in the passion she had for French. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to know this truly incredible woman. My deepest sympathies go out to her family.
Maressa Spinak
August 13, 2010
So little words for such a great loss, you light our way Ms Breen.......
esther rodriguez-willis
August 10, 2010
I was so saddened to hear of Mme Breen's passing and have nothing but the fondest of memories of her. She was so absolutely wonderful and I learned so very much from her. I'm so glad that I was able to connect with her one last time about a year ago. That will forever be so special to me. Mme Breen: thanks for being such a shining light in my high school life and for helping me to always remember les 17 verbes qui prennent être au passé composé. :-)

You will never be forgotten!
John D. Carrion
July 29, 2010
Ms Breen will forever be missed by myself and our family forever!!!
Truely an icon all over the world with a spirit that flowed thru the people that loved her as well as the people next to those people........
She gave my family hope and direction and taught us to believe that its not where you are from but where you are to go....
Kids out of cabrini green related to her greatly being the cast out ones were it was believed we would accomplished nothing.........
O how excellent are the shoes of Ms breen...........
we will love you forever!!!!!!!!!!
our childrens children will forever hear about your goodness!!!!!!!!!
Veronica walkers family!!!!!!!
James Simmons
July 27, 2010
L' annonce de ta disparition m' a profondément ému. Il y a longtemps que je voulais te faire signe, je suivais de loin, de France ta vie professionnelle, ignorant de ta maladie. Ce signe, même si aujourd' hui tu nous a quitté, je le fais. Permets-moi, de m' associer de tout coeur à l' hommage de tous ceux qui t' ont connu, de ceux qui t' ont laissé un message, famille et amis.
Maureen, dans le coeur et l' esprit de chacun tu demeures.

jacques tournoux
July 21, 2010
Maureen was a dear colleague of mine as a fellow French teacher for ten years at Lincoln Park High School. The students loved her and her enthusiasm and energy were boundless. Her award from the French government was well-earned and the world has lost a most wonderful teacher.
Carol Sommers
July 8, 2010
Sitting in Madame Breen's class in 1988 started a love affair with all things French that continues to this day. I am so sorry that I never reconnected with her to tell her what being in her class meant to me and how grateful and honored I was to have had her as a teacher and a role model. My sincere condolences to the Breen-Putnam family.
Kristina Campbell (nee Vergara)
July 6, 2010
You will be missed, Madame Breen.
July 4, 2010
She's a glowing star that made all of our lives bright. She always helped
me with my French pronunciation, I still remember the exact words learned
with her help. Everyone loved her.
Rober Macala
June 30, 2010
Dear Derm,
I'm so saddened by Maureen's death.She was such a special person and I only wish I'd known her better - and for much, much longer. She'll live on in my memory forever.
Margaret Franklin
June 29, 2010
I first met Maureen 26 or -7 years ago, when Derm brought her to a family cookout. We all were wearing shorts and sneakers. Maureen was wearing a mini skirt and high heels. She was stunning. She was witty, she was charming, she drew cartoons and made magic for the children. She did not play volleyball. Toward the end of the evening, Derm took me aside, smilingly eager to get my opinion: “So Ave… what do you think of Maureen – isn’t she somethin’?” He was thrilled with himself to be dating such a glamour girl…. Many months later, when Maureen agreed to marry him, Derm was over the moon. This girl was a catch!

Maureen added a new dimension to our family. She was extroverted, she had charisma. She wore makeup, sparkles, and always the high heels. She couldn’t play tennis and she didn’t particularly want to learn. She had gorgeous hairdos. She bought her clothes at flea markets, but she looked like she stepped out of French Vogue. We drank beer and wine. Maureen drank Pernod!

She was forever surprising us with the range of her abilities and talents. Maureen couldn’t not be creative – she whipped up cartoons, poems, limericks, costumes, decorations, on demand. Her wacky stories – dramatically, hilariously delivered - had us in stitches. And the first time she ever swayed into the room playing “Happy Birthday” on her accordion…. we looked at each other, and our eyes popped. Was there anything this girl could not do?? Maureen spoke I don’t know how many foreign languages. We were ever in awe of the breadth and depth of her knowledge. Leonardo da Vinci comes to mind. But Maureen didn’t lord it over you. She left you feeling as though you were the clever one!

Genuinely generous with her experience and her talents, Maureen shared with us her friends, her possessions, her ideas. To us she was the ultimate insider, especially when it came to anything going on in Chicago. She always had the inside scoop, and she never revealed her sources. She seemed to know everyone who was anyone, and she was happy to offer those connections if it could be of help. Maureen was an optimist. She looked on the bright side - her glass always more than half-full. Her courage over the years as she dealt with the painful twists and turns, stops and starts, of her illness inspired us over and over.

For two and a half decades, Derm’s love for Maureen, his pride and joy in who she was, was our delight to witness. She was a gift to our family…. and already we miss her terribly.

---- delivered at Maureen's funeral service by her sister-in-law, Moira (Avis Putnam) Ripley
June 28, 2010
I was so sad to hear of Mme Breen's passing. She had an unparalleled talent for instilling confidence, enthusiasm, and an interest in other languages and cultures in all of her students and was just an all around wonderful person. I will certainly never forget her.
Kailin Husayko
June 28, 2010
Madame Breen was an outstanding and gifted educator who added her unique touch of elegance, wit, and charm to every segment of her life. She will be missed and remembered by a legions of students and staff at LP.
Bernie Eshoo
June 28, 2010
I am truly saddened to hear about the loss of Madame Breen. Some of my most fun learning experiences were in her french class at LPHS and I will always remember her fondly. My sincere condolences to her loved ones.
Miriam Correa
June 28, 2010
I will always remember Madame Breen referring to us as her chouchou.
A. Chin
June 28, 2010
Maureen was a dear, wonderful friend, who was always ready to encourage, console, laugh, or just guard your secrets. Her vivacity and spirit filled the room, and could make a party out of any occasion. I cherish the times we had together, and will miss her with all my heart.
Sandy Sprowl
June 28, 2010
I still remember how Madame Breen helped me out when my mother passed away from cancer. My condolences to the family. She was a very caring teacher.
Alexei Lalagos
June 28, 2010
I am so grateful that Madame Breen was my teacher. With complete language immersion, she made learning French engaging, challenging and fun! Even in the hallways she only spoke to us in French; now that's dedication. She was one of the very best teachers I've ever had. Madame, merci d'etre mon professeur.
Vira Khamphounvong
June 28, 2010
Madame Breen was my high school French teacher back in 1989 and I still vividly remember her engaging teaching style and big heart. She took us to see Little Prince on stage and was wonderful. I have gone on to use my French through my humanitarian work in West Africa ( and whenever I speak it, I think back to those first classes I had with Madame Breen. She will be missed.
Adam Carter
June 28, 2010
I am devasted to learn of the loss of Maureen. . Maureen was blessed with so much energy, zest and above all creativity! Maureen was my editor of a book on language teaching so we spent many an hour and a day over tea refining every word to her relentless high expectations! My mind is flooded with all of the good times we shared together which are treasures. My love and tender wishes to Derm and Fergus.
Jackie Donnelly
June 28, 2010
You are surely iin the thoughts and prayers of many of us here in Glenn Woods. Your care, concerns,and service will never be forgotten. Mike D.
June 27, 2010
It was a unique pleasure to help Maureen prepare her creative approaches and insights into teaching French so that they appeared in print. But the many students Maureen taught in person are the most fulfilled beneficiaries of her style and grace, qualities displayed both as a teacher in the classroom and as a human being.
David White
June 27, 2010
My deepest sympathies, Derm, to you and your family. I was so sorry to hear of Maureen's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. She will be sadly missed by many here on the lakeshore.
Nancy Stewart
June 27, 2010
I will always remember "Madame Breen"--there is so much I could say about her that I wouldn't know where to begin or where to end. I was in her French class at LPHS for a few years and when my dad died my sophmore year she sent me a dozen roses and a beautiful card that I still have to this day. Not only was she an amazing teacher, she was a gorgeous woman who embodied French style and intellect. She inspired me to continue my French studies in college, and to this day, I can remember, in detail, some of her classes. She was so full of life and certainly will be forever in the hearts of her students. My deepest condolences to all who loved her.
Cristina Nolan
June 26, 2010
Maureen, You were a really wonderful life long friend to my mother. She cherished your friendship dearly.
- Kerry
June 26, 2010
The ten years I shared with "Madame Breen" were so enriched by knowing her. When I was an Assistant Principal, she would invite me to her classroom when there was a celebration or party. I was able to try to use my high school French to sing Christmas carols. She was an inspiration to so many colleagues and young people. Our care candle will be lit in her memory.
Michael Tippett
June 26, 2010
Ultimately your best teaching was about life! You carried with you joy and wonder and beauty that persuaded us that life is to be cherished and valued. When we now look at the night sky, we know that yours is the brightest star continuing to remind us of our connections to each other.
We will miss you,
June 26, 2010
C'est tres triste...elle est la raison pour laquelle je suis devenue prof de francais. Valerie Yoshimura
Valerie Yoshimura
June 25, 2010

I'm so sorry for your loss.

June 25, 2010

What a beautiful and talented sister. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Mary Kelly-Langer
June 25, 2010
Maureen is a role model for her courage and optimism in the face of many obstacles. Our heart goes out to you at this time.
Amy Cooper
June 25, 2010
The beautiful Ms. Breen was my French teacher at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago. On our first day of class, the fire alarm rang and we had to leave the building. Unfazed, she took the opportunity to teach us the French words for “flower”, “sidewalk”, and “spider’s web!” Great teachers use their subject matter to open up the world to their students, and she certainly did that for me. I was fortunate enough to speak with her a few years ago and tell her how much her teaching had meant to me. She will be greatly missed! My deepest condolences to all of her family and friends.
June 25, 2010
Derm, I was so sorry to hear of your loss. The thoughts of many are with you at this time of sorrow.
Linda Pressner
June 25, 2010
Maureen was the leader of our YCS group at St. John Fisher back in the early sixties. She made me feel that my comments were insightful, but perhaps she made everyone feel that way. She was a French friend to my mother, Jacqueline Thiese, who enjoyed sharing French meals, travel tales and all things French with her. We will miss her.
Mary Murphy
June 24, 2010
My dear friend since age 13. My brother Tom was stuck with me, and wanted to go visit Nancy, who was stuck with Maureen. A lucky day for the two tag-along sisters... We travelled Europe together at age 21, and she was in my wedding some years later. The back of our house in Texas is adorned with 65 feet of Maureen's "fetching etchings." Her wit, her sparkle, her loving good will is with us always.
Mary Ellen Nudd
June 24, 2010
Madame Breen's spirited and quirky personality taught me accept and love my own quirkiness and spirit. She did so much to encourage and inspire me. She gave so much of her free time to me outside of class to encourage my dreams. She made me believe that I could actually be a writer some day and was so much more than a French teacher to me. I adored her and I am so sorry to learn that the world and the Breen and Putnam families have lost such a beautiful spirit. She has left her imprint on so many students, though, and the way she lived her life reminds me of the quote by Albert Pike, "What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal." She did so much that is immortal.
Nina Grigsby Princip
June 24, 2010
Sincerest condolences, prayers and kind thoughts from Dermot, Pat and family in Dublin.
June 24, 2010
En tant qu'ancien étudiant, mon coeur souffre avec le passage d'une âme merveilleuse et une professeur fantastique. My deepest condolences to the the Breen-Putnam families for the loss. Shee will be missed by her former students.
Sreedhar Yedavalli
June 24, 2010
We send our deepest sympathy on your sad loss. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.
Brendan and Mary, Dublin, Ireland
Brendan & Mary Toomey
June 24, 2010
Maureen was one of the most original teachers and imaginative people I've ever met. I was both a substitute and an observer in many of her classes. Because of her I became a better teacher. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Adieu, Maureen, et bon repos!
Eve Webster
June 24, 2010
What a light. My high school years would not--could not--have been as colorful and spirited without her. She believed in me, encouraged me to play, and that has made all the difference.
Traci Todd
June 24, 2010
The world is a different place today. Nobody in the world was like Maureen, the bravest, wittiest, loveliest and dearest woman. What a great poet, what a great lover of life! She was like a bright butterfly everywhere she went. So lucky and happy to have called her friend...deepest condolences to Dermot and all of her family and friends.
Esme Codell
June 24, 2010
The planet is now a lonelier place without this beautiful spirit upon it. I have so many wonderful memories from the 2 years I shared Maureen's classroom at Lincoln Park High School. She delighted her students daily, especially with the colored chalk sketches she created to illustrate her wonderful French lessons. Qu'elle reste en paix!
Maureen O'Connor
June 24, 2010
We send our sincerest condolences for your loss.
John and Deborah Matthai
June 24, 2010
Maureen Breen was one of the kindest, brightest, bravest, and most unique of spirits. Many will grieve her passing and smile at the memory of Maureens delightfully refreshing manner.
Susan LaMantia
June 24, 2010
We love you Aunt Momo. Thank you for always showering us with love, your storytelling, and teaching us how to play the accordian.

Patrick and Clare
June 24, 2010
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