June Margaret Dudley
- Born: 20 May 1929, Maternity Hospital, Causeway Lane, North West Leicester, England
- Marriage (1): Leslie Gordon Buxton on 19 Mar 1949 in Parish Church, Lenton, Nottingham, England
- Marriage (2): Francis Granger Harris on 25 Jun 1971 in Kingsway-Lambton United Church, Etobicoke
- Died: 9 Jul 2004, Lakeridge Health Centre, Oshawa, Ontario aged 75
- Buried: Portion of Ashes Interred at Pine Hills Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario
Cause of her death was Bone/Blood Cancer.
My Mother spent the first 24 years of her life in Britain. She told me many stories about the times she spent, as a spirited youth and as a young woman in love, walking the rocky beaches and legendary landscape of the Cornish coast. In particular, a place called Tintagel - the fabled birthplace of King Arthur.
On her living room wall, wherever she lived, hung a hand coloured, 11 x 14 photograph of a huge and rugged cliffside..the furthest point of the cliff looked like a "peninsula" of shale sticking out like a huge diving board about 250 feet above the Atlantic waves. The large whitecaps were crashing upon the jagged rocks below as the sun was sinking slowly into the horizon.
The photo was taken in the late 1940's by her first Husband. When she spoke of Tintagel she would always refer you to this photo, sincerely hoping that you could just get a small piece of what she was seeing and smelling. Much to her dismay the image never really seemed to capture what she was feeling.
Many times she told me that when she passed her wish was to be scattered to the wind from atop the cliff that was by now so familiar to me. As a child visiting England with my parents in 1977 I had the privelege of gazing upon the cliffs for myself. She was right...no words can really describe it.
On Saturday, April 9, 2005 June's only child, James, his only wife Frances their only child Alexander and June's friend of 35 years, Carol; gazed upward from the rocky Tintagel beach just outside the entrance to Merlin's Cave. The sun was bright, the wind was strong and the tide was coming.
Discreetly, they broke away from the typical tourist path leading up to the ruins of King Arthur's Castle. They trudged up the trails of the steep, green hillsides scanning the landscape until the image on the wall was staring back at them.
At the top of the cliffs there was a precipice of shale rock called "Bucca's Nose" (she never mentioned it having a name). Standing at the very edge of the nose the team stood awestruck by the overwhelming beauty of this scene...no wonder she could never describe it.
As she wished, as I promised... Mum now dances in the wind that blows off of the cliffs and wades in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean....forever basking in the cool sun of Tintagel.
We loved her so much.
June was born in a "Maternity Hospital" in Leicester, but at the time of her birth the Dudley family lived at #140 Clarendon Park Road, District of N.W. Leicester, County of Leicester, England. Not too long after June's birth the Dudley family would soon move to #4 Calver Close, Nottingham, England. It was in this home that June and her younger sister, Pamela, would be raised.
June immigrated to Canada with her first husband Les Buxton in 1953 - they separated in late 1962/early 1963 and would eventually divorce - but not for several years. Les was a draughtsman by trade and also an artist. June would keep close contact with Les's parents right up until their death.
June formally became a Canadian citizen on March 6, 1974.
Funeral Services held in Barrie at the home of Peggy (Harris) Hopkinson and Barry Hopkinson on August 8, 2004.
June was cremated, a portion of her ashes were cast to the winds off of the cliffs of Tintagel, England.
The remainder of June's ashes were interred in the John Dickinson Harris/Mae Isabel Granger family plot (alongside her second husband Frank's ashes) in Pine Hills Cemetery on September 8, 2007. They share the same gravestone.
Events in his/her life:
• Memorial Speech: Eulogy, 8 Aug 2004, 30 Collette Street, Barrie, Ontario, Canada. June Harris - Eulogy
On May 20, 1929, In the small working class town of Leicester Great Britain, Arthur and Hilda Dudley welcomed their first child, June Margaret Dudley into the world. Five years later, in 1934, she was to become big sister to Pamela, thus completing the Dudley household.
June was born into a standard middle class British family. Her Mother was from an upper class background and was considered by most at the time to be from a family of wealth and privilege, growing up with house servants and attending private schools.
Her Father's background was a starkly different reality. Orphaned at 8 years of age, he grew up in the juvenile workhouses that were all to common in early 20th century Britain. His life as a youth was one of steady labour and little guidance aside from that of his older brother Joseph. It was he who eventually liberated 16 year old Arthur to live with him. June's personality came to be a formidable combination of the hard working, reality minded orphan and the polite, well spoken, nurturing woman.
Growing up in wartime Britain was surely a difficult experience. For 6 long years June survived dozens of bombing raids - being hit by shrapnel during one raid. She watched as Messershmidt fighter planes shelled the streets of her neighbourhood and like thousands of others, she mourned the loss of safety, friends and family.
In 1941 June and her Grandmother were buried alive under the stairs inside a bombed home for over 24 hours- only June left the rubble with her life..and a terrible fear of small, enclosed spaces.
When asked about these years of her life, her response was not one of anger, terror or even unhappiness. Instead, her most vivid memories of this infamous time in history were ones of comradery, community, church, youth camp at Tintagel, singing, playing piano, working in the munitions factory and huddling around the radio every day to heed the wisdom of Winston Churchill as he praised the British citizen..keeping the fire of patriotism burning bright.
When June was 17 she lost her Father to a sudden heart attack. Arthur had lived with a heart condition since the age of 9 stemming from 2 bouts of untreated rheumatic fever that he developed while selling newspapers on street corners throughout all conditions of weather. His death would deeply impact June's life. Just prior to his death she had fought with him and abruptly left the house only to return soon after to discover he had died. Since she never got to say sorry or goodbye to him she began a ritual that is still practiced by her immediate family to this day. June would never say goodnight or leave to go anywhere without first trying to settle any unresolved problems, saying goodbye and giving you a kiss.
In 1949 June married her youth camp sweetheart Les Buxton and in 1953 she and Les emigrated to Canada in hopes of a new life, better paying jobs, a brighter future and to begin raising the family they both craved and talked of so often. This was not to be. For medical reasons June and Les were unable to have children. In all, June lost 11 children before their due date and lost one other within 3 days of his very premature birth.
The young couples inability to have children eventually resulted in her marriage dissolving in 1962, leaving June alone, heartbroken and convinced she would remain childless and without family forever.
While rebuilding her life and working as a Secretary for the Toronto Historical Society she met a Groundskeeper/Tour Guide by the name of Frank Harris. Frank and June began to see each other often and in time June would become surrogate Mother to Frank's young daughter Vanessa and find the family she had dreamt of for so long.
Although June had been told by many doctors for many years she was incapable of having any children with any man, she finally became a Mother to James Harris on March 19, 1966 in her 37th year.
June was a devoted Mother and wife to her family and, in her own words, her life was exactly what she always wanted it to be. During these times June was the proud matriarch of the Harris family. She helped to raise many of her 11 nephews and nieces and at one point took in a young English girl named Carol that worked at the local chicken farm. 36 years later Carol and her daughter Karin, June’s goddaughter, were there and were proud to call her a Mother, Grandmother and friend.
In 1971 June became a doting Nana to her stepdaughters first born; Tammy, and again in 1974 to Paul.
Her door was always open and the old house at 409 Simcoe Street became a gathering place year round. She gave of her heart and soul to every person she encountered and she was in return deeply loved, respected and admired by all those that she touched. Many people in this room know how much she contributed to the person they are now. Especially if you were fortunate enough to be a child in her care during these years.
Throughout the late 60's and 70's June was an active member of her community and the church. Her classically trained singing voice was heard every Sunday as she led the choir and performed too many solo’s to count. Some may remember June and Peggy playing piano and singing together at Christmas time, what special times these were to her. The greatest time of her life.
During the mid 1980's her marriage to Frank ended, yet he would remain a some times silent, some times outspoken friend and advocate for the remainder of her life. Always ensuring she was safe and secure, looking out for her welfare, and bearing in mind the sensitivity of her nature.
From 1984 to 1988 June lived with her son. As always, she took in others during their time of need. During this time she housed and supported 4 of her son’s friends and her Granddaughter Tammy.
From 1988 to 1994 June lived independently for the second time in her life. Dividing her time between work, friends and family.
In 1988 she met who was to become her future daughter-in-law, Frances and another granddaughter Alicia. By the summer of 1990 June would have her son and his new family living above her in the same house.
In July 1990 she ushered her son in a taxi from Oshawa to Toronto at 12:30 a.m. so that he wouldn’t (but he did by ten minutes) miss the unexpected and premature birth of her grandson and future pride and joy, Alexander. There simply wasn’t enough wall for the pictures she had of her new grandchildren. And there simply wasn’t enough words to describe her feelings for them either.
June, never liking the silence of living on her own, spent the last ten years of her life exactly where she belonged, residing with her son and his family in their home. Simply enjoying the noise and racket above her head, knowing how lonely it was to not be privileged with such sounds.
She spent her time working at the Museum, employing the children of her friends and family at the Museum (5 to be exact), babysitting her grandchildren, being visited and visiting Carol and her family, and going on weekend and holiday outings with Peggy and Barry.
In June 2002 at the age of 73 June reluctantly retired from the workplace due to chronic fatigue in the wake of an acute asthma attack.
Having not enjoyed good health for some years, June was hospitalized and diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a form of bone/blood cancer, in the March of 2004. She returned home, optimistic of a recovery, only to fall and break her hip within 2 weeks. On June 4 she moved in to Sunnycrest Nursing home for a brief three weeks when she became very ill. On June 28 she was once again hospitalized...this time she would not leave.
On July 9 2004, at 11:15 p.m, June Margaret Harris passed away at Lakeridge Health Oshawa.
At last count June had attained 2 daughters, 1 son, 8 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, 2 sons in law, 1 daughter in law, 12 nieces and nephews and dozens more that would have, and were, proud to have the privilege of addressing her as Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Aunt, and friend. What a truly inspirational and remarkable achievement her life was for a woman who had one sister, one brother in law, one son, two nephews, one grandson and one daughter in law.
She has left all of us with fond memories of a truly beautiful woman that could make even the saddest and dullest day seem hopeful and sunny. She leaves all of us with nothing but good thoughts and intentions, warm embraces, soft kisses and laughter..and that is surely a vast accomplishment worthy of the name June Harris.
June’s honesty, pure character, devotion and unconditional love was to be the hallmark of her life... and the boldest statement she was ever to make. It is in this exact light she would wish to be remembered.
All she ever really wanted was to make us all smile and love her as much as she loved us.
Written by James Harris
August 6, 2004
June married Leslie Gordon Buxton, son of William Edward Buxton and Unknown, on 19 Mar 1949 in Parish Church, Lenton, Nottingham, England. The marriage ended in divorce in 1964. (Leslie Gordon Buxton was born on 21 Jun 1925 in Nottingham, England.)
June next married Francis Granger Harris, son of John Dickinson Harris and Mary Isabelle Granger, on 25 Jun 1971 in Kingsway-Lambton United Church, Etobicoke. The marriage ended in separation in Jun 1986. (Francis Granger Harris was born on 6 Mar 1928 in Woburn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, died on 5 Jun 2007 in Royal Victoria Hospital, Barrie, Ontario and was buried in Portion of Ashes Interred at Pine Hills Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario.) The cause of his death was Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D.)