Photos by Michael Bloom
June Garcia was born June 5, 1927, and grew up in nearby Putnam County before coming to live in Walden with her husband, Anthony (Tony) after they were married in 1949.
“Tony was in construction and we settled in Walden for the schools. We wanted the boys (Steven and Donald) to be in the same school through high school. Our original house was on North Montgomery Street and White,” Garcia explains, “But, then we had the chance to have woods and water, and that’s what I always wanted.”
Within just a few minutes of this telephone interview, any listener would have to be convinced that this is indeed a 90-year-old woman on the line. She is quick, witty, easy to talk with, and one can imagine the sparkle in her eyes as a full smile spreads from ear to ear. Her laugh is robust and short story vignettes are given with detail.
Asked her thoughts about receiving a proclamation from Mayor Susan Rumbold, Garcia was not sure where to begin before saying, “I am so pleased I could be helpful to so many. I don’t want to single any particular causes out as more important, but I am still very much involved with my church (Most Precious Blood Parish) and the Humane Society.
The Humane Society of Walden is especially dear to me because I just love animals. They seem to be drawn to me, and I am drawn to them. When my kids were little, we had a number of different pets, including hamsters. Today, well, I don’t have any of my own, but I keep meeting a few cats who think they belong to me,” she laughed. “One actually come in my house as if he or she owns the place and just a few nights ago, a white cat was sleeping on my porch. She also walked right in and out on her own. I haven’t seen her for a few days and wonder if maybe she wasn’t just heavy, but maybe pregnant and is now taking care of her kittens.”
Although Garcia would likely be involved with the community whether she had help or not, she did share, “People seem to just trail after me and they want to do what I am doing. I don’t have to preach to anyone.”
If Garcia looks familiar to you and you are not sure from where, here is a condensed overview of some of the things she has been involved in:
Walden Woman’s Club, Walden Historical Society, Sunshine Society, Walden Community Council, 40-year career as an educator and service with the 4-H Club and Cornell Cooperative Extension, and has received the following awards of recognition: 2002 Village of Walden Volunteer of the Year, 2013 Sam Phelps Service Award.
Walden Mayor Rumbold had this to say about Garcia, “The love that June Garcia has for this Village cannot be measured. Her hours of community service stand as a testimonial to her dedication to all of us.”
While many senior citizens are likely asked what their secret is to aging, Garcia has some definite thoughts, “I still drive. I just keep going. I simply can’t believe my own age. There is no one secret. Ever since I was little and growing up with my brothers, we were simply raised to do the right thing, nothing foolish and that has been enough and we all got through it.”
So, the next time you are at a Village of Walden community event, you might very well run into the energetic and driven June Garcia. If you are thinking of adopting a pet from the Humane Society of Walden, it may have received some care, attention or donations as a direct result of the passion of June Garcia. When you realize you may have a little bit of time and can help out a worthy cause in the Village, you might very well join a committee alongside, you guessed it, June Garcia.