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February 2002
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In Memoriam - June Harter

My mother was a very special person. I suppose every mother's son believes that his mother was a very special person. They are right to do so; everyone's mother is a special person. My special person, the person I am going to talk about here, is my mother, June Harter.

Perhaps I should say "was" rather than "is" because she died in her sleep at 6:20 in the morning of January 25, 2002. I will say "is" though, because, dead or alive, she is a very special person to me. More than that, she was a truly remarkable person.

She was a woman of many interests. She was an avid gardener who created an oasis of green and floral beauty in the middle of the prairie. She was an enthusiastic conservationist. She was a bird watcher who didn't simply watch birds; she edited the SD Ornithological Journal for a number of years. She was a genealogical researcher and a principal in the local historical society. She was a painter. She was a self taught architect who designed her own home. She kept up with world affairs; in the middle of rural South Dakota she subscribed to "The Economist" and "Mother Jones". She made quilts and she canned. Somewhere in the midst of all this activity she found time to be a wife, a widow, a mother, and a beloved member of her community.

She lived a full life. She was born in 1914 as the first of eight children. She was a farm wife fighting the depression and the dust storms in the dirty thirties. She watched her husband die of cancer. She raised her children and saw them all go to college and go on to good careers. Through it all she fought the good fight with wit, humor, and a shrewd pragmatism. Her last two years were not what she wanted or what anyone would have wanted; she spent them fighting for breath in a nursing home. Even so, her mind and her interest in life never failed.

I hope my words are enough to establish that she indeed was a remarkable person. I would like to end this by recalling an incident that illustrates why she was a special person to me.

When I was a child in grade school I attended a country school, North Eagle township school in Hyde county. When I started high school I had to go to school in Highmore. We lived 11 1/2 miles from town; a long distance on country roads in those days. My mother made that drive twice a day for my freshman year. To be honest I didn't remember that she did this for me until we were talking about the old days one time. On those trips we would both keep an eye out for native birds and native flowers; we observed the meadowlarks, the lark buntings, and the redwing blackbirds in the spring time.

That I remembered.


This page was last updated February 1, 2002.

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February 2002
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