Remembering Alan Breslau

Written by Amy Acton, RN, BSN on November 27, 2020

It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors’ founder, Alan Breslau. Alan passed away on November 26, 2020 surrounded by his loving wife Delwyn and family. 

Alan was deeply loved by the burn community - His strong dedication, long term commitment, and unwavering desire to help others made him truly one of a kind. 

In Loving Memory

18 March 1926 - 26 November 2020

A unique and very special life 

A unique and very special love

His passion and commitment has changed the trajectory 

of so many lives leaving behind an invaluable legacy

He will be sadly missed.


A celebration of Alan’s life was held at St. Andrews (11 Vincent St. Howick) on Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 2 pm - a video of the service is below.

Share Your Memories

Alan was a warm and wonderful individual—one we will miss greatly. During this difficult time, we would love to hear about how Alan has impacted your life. Please share your memories with us so that his spirit lives on.

How Phoenix Society Came to Be 

Alan was injured in a plane crash - and upon his discharge from the hospital, he struggled to find support or community. Following a visit to a young boy in a burn center, Alan recognized the importance of peer support for those with burn injuries and was inspired to establish Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors - one of the first burn support organizations in the world. 


Phoenix Society was officially founded in 1977, and over the next twenty years, Alan worked tirelessly to develop and expand the burn community. With modest resources, limited staff, and his great passion for helping others, he was able to touch the lives of many.  


We are now the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people affected by a burn injury. Phoenix Society serves burn survivors, loved ones, burn care professionals, researchers, and anyone else committed to empowering the burn community and building a safer world.  

Honoring Alan  

The Breslau Award honors a Phoenix Society member who has, through a collaborative spirit, significantly enhanced the ability of the society to fulfill our mission of peer support, education, and advocacy. Named in honor of Alan and Delwyn’s commitment to the burn community, the Breslau Award is the highest distinction Phoenix Society can bestow.  


More recently, the Breslau Society was created to recognize and celebrate those who have included Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors in their wills or estate plans. The Breslau Society is named after Alan - honoring a lifetime dedicated to uniting the voice of the burn community. 

Your Impact is Greater > Than You Know

My Tribute to Alan - Delwyn Breslau

An incredible man who has had an amazing life  

Such a privilege it was to be your wife 


A few little insights you may be interested to hear 

Most of which that I know, I will always hold dear 


He had fun writing poetry - and to me taught the same 

I hope to now do his teaching credit - to honor his name 


He taught me so much and I was eager to learn 

The secret of his magic, ‘Is it due to his burn?’ 


All of a sudden - in a strange twist of fate 

An aero plane crash - ‘63 was the date 


His life changed in an instant, with the cruel ravages of fire 

No idea then to be a global hero - you’d aspire 


The pain and suffering he endured must have been out of sight 

But he coped with it all with incredible might  


He lost the top of his head, ear, eye and nose 

A few fingers too but kept all of his toes 


‘The Time of My Death’ was the first book he wrote 

Resulting in a suggestion, by a surgeon of note 


The Phoenix Society was born - burn survivors were wowed! 

Now, with staff and resources which made him feel proud


Of media interviews, simply hundreds he's done 

Radio, newspapers and television 


He testified vehemently before the United States Senate 

Manufacturing a fire safe cigarette, was his thrusting tenet  


The Hidden Burn Syndrome was one of his discoveries 

Which relieved so much guilt - in numerous recoveries 


The Phoenix World Burn Congress now an international event  

T’was to the very first one in Philly, ’88 that I went 


We had so much in common and so many letters he did send 

Five years later - how could I not marry, my very best friend?!   


Lots of fundraising, burn camps and scheduling meetings 

Congresses too - where there’s heaps of warm greetings 


‘An atomic explosion of happiness’ they have since been described 

No wonder people keep coming, after just once they’ve ‘imbibed’ 


His optimistic credo - to make the VERY best of your life 

No matter what you are dealt, or whatever the strife 



Has held him so high, in everyone’s books 


He was ALWAYS there for survivor fears to allay 

There were times during the night when the phone would ring sometimes, even around two  


From a dead sleep, his cheery voice saying “Good morning Phoenix Society - how CAN we help you? 


He has changed the trajectory of so many lives 

His philosophies and credos, proving ever so wise 


His inspiration and spirit and true dedication 

Soothing so many souls (and without medication!) 


His love of Coke was ALWAYS a worry for me 

But, hey, maybe that was the secret to his longevity! 


Pancakes always got his day off, to a really great start   

Always made for him especially, in the shape of a heart 


From his father he inherited his amazing musical gift 

A quick tune on the piano, always gave one’s spirits a lift 


Having previously had his own orchestral band 

Still playing since the crash with only one hand  


Of prestigious awards, he has garnered so much 

Lifetime achievements, awards, medals and such  


Alan Breslau to me, you were such an incredible man 

It has been such an honor to compose this, as your biggest fan 


But the time has now come, to end this tribute to his life  

Composed with much love, by his adoring wife


The Phoenix Society has proven to be more precious than gold - 

To those survivors who now have new lives - yet to unfold 


To know that his legacy will now live on forever 

His life’s work truly was an incredible endeavor 


On behalf of us all my love, we thank you from the bottom of all our hearts.   

We love you Alan.