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June Arlene (Schinkel, Davison) Stewart: 1925—2014 | Passages

July 25, 2014 · Updated 3:48 PM
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June Arlene Stewart / Contributed photo

June was born Jan. 24, 1925 to Walter Daniel Schinkel and Ellen Vertie Klinger in Branchdale, Schuyllkill County, Penn., at the home of her grandparents, Dorothy and Gurney Klinger.

Born on the same day as a total solar eclipse, the doctor had prepared some window glass by blackening it so he could view the eclipse; however, the doctor was so busy delivering June when the eclipse was at its fullest, that he missed it.

Her father, Walter Schinkel, died of pneumonia at the age of 23, when June was only four months old. He worked for the telephone company, and one day he caught a chill while climbing poles during a spring rain in the Pennsylvania mountains. June always remembered the terrible grief that her mother experienced.

June and her five loving and protective uncles lived in the same house; they doted on and adored June. One of her fondest memories was when she was a toddler and they would put her in a wagon and push her down a hill with some of them at the bottom to catch her.

Sometimes she fell out of the wagon, and they would pick her up and throw her high into the air to keep June from crying, so they wouldn’t get in trouble from their sister, Ellen. They did the same thing with a sled in the winter.

June and her mother, Ellen, lived with her Klinger grandparents until Ellen married Charles Henry Davison in 1930, when June was about five years old. During the 1930 Depression, her stepfather, Davison, lost his job, and the family returned to live again with June’s grandparents, who now resided in Shamokin, Penn.

When June was in the fifth or sixth grade, they moved into their own home on Montgomery Street. The house didn’t have the luxury of indoor plumbing, and she vividly remembered having to use indoor chamber pots and going outside in the brutal Pennsylvania winter to use the outhouse.

The Depression was very hard on the family who couldn’t afford store-bought clothes, so her mother would expertly fashion flour bags as dresses for her with crocheted collars and embroidered flowers.

June attended Stevens Elementary School until eighth grade and then attended Shamokin High School, where she played the harp in the orchestra and graduated in 1943.

At 15, she worked part-time at the Newberry Five and Dime Store, beginning at the counter and, later, graduating to the soda fountain. June’s habit of never eating the bottom of an ice cream cone resulted from this experience.

During high school, she met her future husband, Martin “Marty” Stewart, who lived in Catawissa, Penn. Her fondest story was their first date.

Marty and his date, and June and her date, went on a double-date in Marty’s roadster, a two-seat car with an outside rumble seat. During the course of the double date, June got wet and couldn't sit outside in the rumble seat.

The chivalrous Marty insisted that June sit up front with him, out of the weather. June and Marty instantly hit it off and the rest was history.

They were married in Fannin County, Bonham, Texas, on July 17, 1943, while Marty attended pilot training school prior to entering WW II to fly a B-24 Liberator bomber.

After the war, the young couple bought their first home in Bloomsburg, Penn., and Marty got a job at the Magee Carpet Company. It was in this house that June cared for her dying mother, who succumbed to cancer in 1950.

Dad re-entered the Air Force for the Korean War and made a career of it, which converted us into a classic Air Force family for whom June fully embraced the role of an officer’s wife. During their military career, they lived in Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Kansas, Florida, California, Taiwan, Philippines, and Columbia (South America).

From 1944 until 1960, June and Marty produced a family of three sons and a daughter.

June was an excellent high school student and won a scholarship after graduation from high school to enter a nursing program, but she declined this to marry Dad and follow him to Texas; however, later in the 1960s, she attended college herself while living in Bellville, Ill. and graduated with honors, receiving her registered nursing license in 1971.

She worked 19 years in coronary care (CCU) and intensive care units (ICU) until 1990. June was known for and received many compliments on her professionalism, commitment, expertise, and quick wit. She also lied quite shamelessly about her age and was employed as a competent nurse much longer than is normal.

Mother had a deep respect for education, and the numerous Saturday trips with her children to the library to get three books, “only one of which could be a picture book”, are fondly remembered.

Marty finished his stellar Air Force career of 36 years at McClellan Air Force base in California. When June retired from her nursing profession after 19 years, in 1990, they had their dream home built in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, off the coast of the state of Washington to spend their twilight and sunset years. Even after living in so many places, June and Marty never found a place they loved as much as San Juan Island.

June took great pride in telling family and friends about her last sighting of eagles that nested nearby or pods of orca, or minke whales, that frequently swam by their water-view dream home.

This is an isolated island with limited medical facilities, and the only way to reach it is by ferry, boat, or small aircraft. Marty owned a Cessna 182, a four-seat airplane that was his pride and joy.

From their island home they would travel frequently to nearby and cross-country locations. Their military career of constantly moving often didn’t give them the opportunity to become involved with local activities, so when they settled into their new home they immersed themselves in their church and community. As a retired nurse, June utilized her nursing skills to provide non-medical support to the island community and Marty air-transported patients or clergy to and from the island, as well as lending his carpentry and mechanical skills to help others.

When Marty passed away December 2005, as the result of cancer, after 62 years of marriage, June remained in their Friday Harbor home and continued volunteering at the library, the senior center office, and the community theater.

In 2009, while visiting her daughter in Florida, June suffered a stroke at her daughter’s residence. After making a remarkable recovery, she realized living alone in her isolated Friday Harbor home was no longer feasible.

June decided to move into the continuing care retirement community, Freedom Plaza, in Sun City Center, Fla. to be near her daughter, who eventually secured employment there. June enjoyed the independent and active lifestyle at Freedom Plaza together with the knowledge that she was no longer alone.

She embedded herself in the community and made many friends. She especially enjoyed helping with the Freedom Plaza theater, playing dominos with her friends, learning Bridge, writing biographies of the incoming new residents for the Freedom Plaza flyer, attending the senior graduate school, engaging in debates, socializing with the community, and attending the coffee concerts.

She also researched an extensive genealogy of her family. She was well known throughout the community for her writings, wit, and great sense of humor.

It is with great sorrow that on July 7, 2014 June succumbed to complications of a traumatic brain injury incurred after a fall two weeks prior.

The family wishes to thank the Tampa General Hospital Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and their team of professionals for tireless efforts in providing June with compassionate and dignified support.

There will be a Celebration Memorial for June at the auditorium of Freedom Plaza, located in Sun City Center, Fla, at 1010 American Eagle Blvd. on 30 July 2014, at 10 a.m. No funeral service will be held.

Her cremated remains will be taken by her children to her beloved Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and laid to rest next to her husband Marty.

June is survived by three sons and a daughter: Martin Van Buren Stewart, Jr. of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Dennis Marshall Stewart of Higginsville, Mo.; Mitchell Wayne Stewart of Grass Valley, Calif.; and Cynthia Stewart Graham of Riverview, Fla. June also has four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

June had an extraordinary life, but it was never as fulfilling after her husband, Marty, passed away.

They are now blessedly together again, and we find solace with that thought.

— Family of June Arlene Stewart

 


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