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First game for newest member of Packers FAN Hall of Fame is special story

Decorated veteran had just returned from Korean War and saw Packers play on West Coast

John Breske of Elderon, Wis., was named the 25th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame
John Breske of Elderon, Wis., was named the 25th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame

GREEN BAY – John Breske couldn't remember the Packers lost the first game he attended, but that hardly matters now.

It didn't matter much then, either, on Dec. 6, 1953, as Breske had just returned from decorated service in the Korean War. He had left the military hospital he'd been admitted to in San Francisco to attend church, and then head to a tavern with his fellow soldiers.

Not long after, he was being let in free to Kezar Stadium along with several other uniformed veterans to watch the 49ers down the Packers, 48-14.

His attendance that day was the first of countless instances in the nearly 70 years since, a devotion that was honored Thursday as Breske, from Elderon, Wis., was named the 25th member of the Packers FAN Hall of Fame.

"I'm more proud of the people who helped me get in here," Breske said following Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy's announcement of him as this year's winner, followed by presentation of a plaque.

"I had so many people vote for me, I couldn't believe where they were voting from. I really had a backing."

That support began with a nomination from family friend Lori Mueller, who has known Breske through her father-in-law for decades. Breske regularly organized bus trips to Lambeau Field to give fans the opportunity to see the Packers play, going above and beyond to provide food and hospitality along the way.

Mueller and her husband went on several bus trips and came to know and appreciate not just Breske's loyalty, but his spirit and dedication to service as well.

"I nominated him for a number of reasons," Mueller said. "To be a Packer fan, you have your memorabilia, but I think one of the biggest things is sharing the history and tradition, and growing new Packer fans.

"John would tell you that it's about more than him."

John Breske of Elderon, Wis., was named the 25th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.

Breske, who's also a cancer survivor, has seen more of the franchise's dark times than many, having suffered through the dismal pre-Lombardi years as well as the wilderness of the 1970s and '80s.

The first game he attended in Green Bay was at City Stadium, before Lambeau Field was built (he remembered the Packers won that day), and over the years he's rarely missed a home game, even the ones in Milwaukee.

All along, he's wanted more than anything for Packers fandom to be passed down through the generations. A month shy of his 92nd birthday, and with at least a half dozen family and friends of all ages cheering his honor in the Lambeau Field auditorium on Thursday, he personifies that.

"When I first started going to fill that stadium up, it wasn't so easy," Breske said. "There were some lean years. But take the kids to a football game, and I'm sure they'll get to like it over time."

Coincidentally, one of Breske's past next-door neighbors, Ed Jablonski, was selected for the Packers FAN Hall of Fame more than 20 years ago, and Breske played a part in pushing his candidacy.

All that support was turned in his direction this time, as he emerged the winner from more than 100 nominations around the world that had been whittled down to 10 finalists. Online voting took place in January, with more than 44,000 votes cast in all.

As this year's honoree, Breske receives four club seats to a 2023 Packers home game, a road trip for two to a 2023 Packers away game, and a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate. His name will be one of 25 now on display in the Packers Hall of Fame.

"We are the only team in the NFL with a fan hall of fame," said Murphy, referencing its 1998 establishment. "Every team says they have great fans, but we are one of the teams that can really say we have the best fans in the league."