Cover photo for Robert Herschell Brethen's Obituary
Robert Herschell Brethen Profile Photo
1926 Robert 2022

Robert Herschell Brethen

June 29, 1926 — January 15, 2022

BRETHEN, Robert “Bob” Herschell, age 95, of Kettering, Ohio, passed on Saturday, January 15, 2022. He was born June 29, 1926 in Rochester, New York to Milton and Ethel Brethen. He graduated from Syracuse University, class of 1949, and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Later in life, he provided a gift to create the Robert H. Brethen School of Management at Syracuse University.

After a long successful career that included General Motors, Toledo Scales, and Philips Industries, Bob came to Dayton to work at Philips Industries Headquarters, eventually becoming CEO. After retirement from Philips, he founded Celstar, Inc., which grew into a very successful holding company.

During his retirement Bob also shared his business expertise throughout Dayton. He was active on the MedAmerica Board of Trustees, Miami Valley Hospital Board of Trustees, and the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. He also served on the Board of Governors for many years at the Dayton Racquet Club.

Bob also shared of himself in many charitable activities. He provided a gift to Hospice of Dayton to create the Alma H. Brethen Library. Later, he worked closely with Daybreak and created Lindy’s Bakery, which has enabled the employment and training of many homeless youths.

More recently, his interest turned to innovative medicine. He donated a gift to create the Brethen Center for Surgical Advancement in Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery and purchased several robotic surgery machines.

His last efforts were to restore the famous Dayton Callahan Clock and erect the Brethen Tower at Carillon Park.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Ruth; wife, Joan; and second wife, Alma. He is survived by his loving wife Carolyn, his daughter Karen (Daniel), his son David (Colleen), and their children and grandchildren. Also his stepson Jeff (RaeJean) and Mary Ann (Joe) and their children. Also surviving are Carolyn's children, Allen (Patty), Kenneth (Krisanne) and Stuart (Karen), their children and grandchildren.

Bob was a member of David's United Church of Christ in Kettering.

Due to Covid and Omicron, the family will have a private funeral service with a Celebration of Life to be held at a later date. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations in Bob's memory can be made to The Animal Protectorates, 706 Kiser Station Road, Friendsville, TN 37737. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be made at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Herschell Brethen, please visit our flower store.


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