She was a petite redhead with a temper that would match. She was also one of the most caring people I have known. She had a great sense of humor which came in handy considering the family she married into. All of the people who joined the Hill clan knew before the wedding took place what they were getting into and my Aunt June was no exception.
I just have bits and pieces of her life in my knowledge base of what her life was like before becoming a Hill. I have heard stories of her being abused as a child but as she grew older she did not let that deter her. I know that she had dated my Uncle Dan for a little while before becoming infatuated with his brother, my Uncle Jack. When she fell for Jack, she fell hard. Strong bonds in marriage seemed to be a part of the Hill DNA. Jack and June had that part of the Hill makeup. Their marriage was strong, lasting over fifty years and it was obvious that they were crazy about each other.
Jack and June. Jack and June. When placing their names together as husband and wife, as one entity, it sounds almost like poetry. Jack and June. Maybe it is the alliteration of the two "J"'s together along with the one syllable names but when you say "Jack and June" it seems to roll off the tongue so very smoothly and you immediately get a picture of them together in your mind.
For the most part, June was very intelligent. She had graduated with her husband from Mizzou together as they began their life together. This life that they formed together was one of the most entertaining as well as puzzling relationships in the family. June was very opinionated, which is expected if you join the Hill family. She was not shy about what she thought and would let it be known exactly what she thought. This was expected when it came to politics or philosophy and June did not disappoint. Thankfully she leaned a bit to the left which put her in line with the vast majority of the Hills.
This little lady, full of fire, had another dimension to her that most of the other Uncle's wives did not have. She had a vast knowledge and love of sports. While arguments concerning sports were usually more heated in the Hill family than politics, at least until my cousin Jerry and I grew old enough to join in the fray, June could hold her own in the sports department. She understood football. She understood baseball and she understood basketball and track and field. But the knowledge that she had over her in-laws was Hockey. The Hills were not much of a hockey family but being from St Louis June had a love and understanding of the game that prevented anyone from arguing with her about the subject.
She was a good aunt. I am lucky to be able to say that I really didn't have an aunt that wasn't good. June was good in her own special way, as all my aunts and uncles were. She was a school teacher, as was her husband and two of her children would become. It takes a special person to be a teacher. Well, it takes a special person to be a good teacher. Jack and June were both good teachers. June loved the kids that she taught and followed up on their lives as they grew out of her grasp and into life. She was drill team or cheer leading faculty coach for years. She loved it. If you would go into her house and enter her guest room, you would see all kinds of pictures of cheer leading squads from years past. Teaching was a huge part of her life and like other great teachers that I have known (shout out to my sister Elaine here) June put everything she had into it. She was responsible for these kids and she knew it, taking the challenge very seriously.
She was a Christian as well and her faith and belief spilled over into all the other parts of her life. No one ever had to question what my aunt's beliefs were. You knew where she stood, what she thought if you spent any length of time with her at all.
She would take an interest in things that she knew you were interested in. For example, she knew that I liked movies and what kind of movies I liked and when I would see her eventually she would question me about a new movie that had come out. She knew I liked reading and would tell me of new books that she had recently read and make suggestions to me. One time I remember I was talking about a recent decision that had come down from the Supreme Court and in the middle of my expressing my thoughts on the decision she looked me cold in the eyes and asked me if I could name the nine justices of the court. It was a test. It was for her to decide how much weight to give my knowledge of the court. After clicking off the nine names, she said "ok" and I continued to speak what I thought of the decision.
By far the best attribute of my Aunt June's was her sense of humor. She had a beautiful smile and wore that smile most of the time. She was at her best though when she was sitting next to her husband and one of them were trying to tell a story to the rest of us. It didn't matter who was telling the story, they couldn't get more than two sentences out without the other correcting them. Once this happened, Jack and June would lightly bicker about the facts of the story until one got tired of correcting or being corrected and continue on for another two or three sentences when the conflict would be played out all over again. This was so much fun to watch and to listen to. Each of them were right in their own minds. Neither of them doubted that they were right. Oh, every once in a while, usually June, would back off a little and tell Jack that well, maybe he was right after all, but that did not happen too often.
The thing about these talks with both of them were that even while bickering, the love these two people had for each other shown through. It was a marvelous sight to see. These two people, Jack and June, were obviously made for each other.
June raised her kids well. She raised them in a way that she felt they should be raised. Nobody told her how to raise her kids and nobody would. She did a great job. Jack and June ended up raising a minister and two teachers. Those two teaching kids learned how to teach from Jack and June. They are good teachers just like their parents. You can tell by the respect they get from their peers and their students.
These three kids eventually produced some grandkids. These grandkids presented challenges as Down Syndrome and Autism has played a big role in their family. But let me tell you something and I say this with all sincerity. These kids could not have been given to a better pair of grandparents than Jack and June. The love that June gave those kids and the effort she put into helping to teach those kids showed once again what a good person she was. These kids did not have problems, they had challenges and June, as grandmother, was going to do whatever she could to help these kids meet these challenges. As always, during this time, she kept on smiling.
A few years ago my Aunt June became sick. She suffered a series of strokes and fought off cancer. She was strong through the whole ordeal and continued to speak her mind. When she passed, there was a big hole left in the family, as has been the case when ever someone moves on from this world. Her funeral was a testament as to how respected the little lady was. Visitation the night before the funeral lasted hours. The line of people waiting to pay their respects went from outside the church, completely through the church and around the whole of the sanctuary. This was really the first time I was able to see how this lady who spoke her mind always, who smiled always, and who cared about people always had effected the people around her during her life.