Cudmore: Remembering Amsterdam’s Eleanore Cramer Breier

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Eleanore Cramer Breier, widow of Amsterdam mayor and industrialist Marcus Breier, died late last month in Miami at 101.  She would have turned 102 June 12.

Known as Mima to family members, her parents were Samuel and Mayme Cramer of Amsterdam. 

Eleanore’s son Robert Breier said, “Samuel Cramer was an early legendary wholesale grocer, S and G Cramer on West Main Street.  In the early years, he went by horse and buggy into Vermont to sell groceries.  Later he owned the Supreme Markets.”

A graduate of Ithaca College, Eleanore was a physical education teacher at the former Theodore Roosevelt Junior High in Amsterdam.

Her husband, born in Brooklyn in 1912, was a 1934 graduate of Cornell University and a Cornell Law graduate. 

He practiced law for a year before joining the family’s men’s clothing business, then named Marcus Breier & Son’s in honor of his grandfather who founded the firm in New York City in 1898.

Marcus’ father, Benjamin, moved the company’s manufacturing plant to Leonard Street in Amsterdam in 1933.  Marcus also moved to Amsterdam.

Eleanore and Marcus married on December 21 1941.  Robert Breier said his mother lived in the same house, 38 McClellan Ave. on Market Street hill, for almost 80 years. 

She resided with her parents at 38 McClellan until she married.  The newlyweds first lived at 1 Wallin St. adjacent to Brookside Avenue.  Then the Breiers traded the Wallin Street house for 38 McClellan “so as an adult she moved back in.”

On Marcus Breier’s watch the family business supplied the military with aviator jackets in World War II and popularized the brand name Bantamac.

Eleanore and Marcus raised two sons and a daughter. They also leave six grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

Robert Breier said, “All I will say is I never – to my knowledge – made anything that could be construed as a racial remark after my mother admonished me as an 8-year-old.  Remember it till this day.”

Marcus Breier, a Republican, never had run for elected office when he defeated Democratic Party icon Arthur Carter in Amsterdam’s 1963 mayoral election by 1,600 votes.  Breier was the city’s second Jewish mayor.

While in public office, Breier worked at City Hall in the morning and went to his factory then on Edson Street in the afternoon.

During his four years as mayor, urban renewal began to take hold in Amsterdam.  Veterans Park on Locust Avenue was developed.  The low-income and senior housing projects on Division Street were begun.

Later he won multiple terms as Amsterdam First Ward supervisor.  He also did a stint as county board chairman.  He died in 2010.

Eleanore was an integral part of her husband’s political career.  She campaigned door to door and attended many chicken dinners.

Robert Breier added, “Find me one person who didn’t like her. You can’t. That tells it all. And a greater wife never existed.”

In addition to their home in Amsterdam, the Breiers had houses in Northville and the state of Florida.

One of the first residents of the Palace in Coral Gables, Florida, Eleanore was a feared bridge and mahjong player.

She spent many of her last 80 summers winning at Saratoga Race Track and the local golf course.  She always made time for a hot fudge sundae at the Village Scoop Ice Cream Shop in Northville.

Robert Breier said, “She took adversity in stride and moved on. She broke her neck at 97, and laid on the ground for hours. When I expressed sympathy, she told me she went to sleep while on the floor.  Her words: ‘What else could I do?’”

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