June Cardell Cooper of Charleston, IL passed away on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at Saint Vincent Hospital in Anderson, IN – it was her 97th birthday.
June was born on June 7, 1918 in Minneapolis, MN, a daughter of second generation Swedish-American parents, Ernest Mauritz and Ruth Vivian (Ryberg) Cardell. June earned the Girl Scout Golden Eaglet in 1937 and worked for many summers as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor. She earned a teaching certificate from Racine-Kenosha Rural Normal School in Union-Grove, WI and taught in a one-room school near Elkhorn, WI from 1941-44.
In June of 1944, June enlisted in the SPARS, the women’s branch of the U.S. Coast Guard. She served during World War II as a coxswain at SPAR Barracks located on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC. Using the GI Bill, June finished her baccalaureate degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA, and then enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN to earn an MA in Counseling. While at Indiana University, she met her future husband, George K. Cooper, who was also attending school on the GI Bill. They became best friends and lovers for life, were married in Kenosha, WI and shared 63 years of marriage prior to his death on March 11, 2012.
They embarked on helping to produce the Baby Boomer generation, raising six children in a household filled with love and encouragement, in Kalamazoo, MI where George was on the faculty at Western Michigan University. The Cooper family moved to Charleston, IL in 1964 when George accepted a position on the faculty at Eastern Illinois University.
While raising six active children, June decided to rejoin the workforce and in 1965 accepted a position teaching Eighth Grade History at Jefferson Junior High School. June then returned to school and in 1969 earned an MA in History from Eastern Illinois University. Her thesis, “Dennis Hanks: A Biography” is on file in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, IL. While she was working on this degree, June was employed as a guidance counselor at Kansas High School from 1968-1971.
Changing career directions in 1971, June attended Olney Central College and in 1973, at the age of 55, earned an Associated Degree in Nursing and was licensed as a Registered Nurse. She worked as an RN for one year at the Charleston Community Hospital and then she taught the Nurse Aid Certificate Program at the Mattoon Area Adult Education Center from 1974-1982.
June returned to school, again, and earned an MA in Gerontology from Eastern Illinois University in 1983. Hospice of Lincolnland, a program of the Lincolnland Visiting Nurse’s Association, then hired her, at the age of 65, and from 1983-1996 she served as both a staff member and as director.
Officially retiring from paid employment at the age of 76, June then worked as a hospice volunteer staff member for Lincolnland and then for Dynamic Home Care until she finally retired in 2005 at the age of 87!
She was active in the Coles County Historical Society, the Illinois State Hospice Association, the Coles County Retired Teachers Association, Apples and Oranges (an EIU faculty wives club), and the Wesley United Methodist Church. June was the recipient of the Illinois Department of Aging Private Sector Employee of the Year in 1996 and she was recognized by Eastern Illinois University with the Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award in 2007.
June is survived by 5 children, G. Kyle (Christie) Cooper of Topeka, KS, Ernest Cardell (Lisa) Cooper of Belfast, ME, Ruth Anne Cooper of Charleston, L. Jean Cooper of Irmo, SC, Andrew Ryberg (Sue Snyder) Cooper of Middletown, IN; a daughter-in-law, Ki Im Cooper of Fayetteville, NC, a former daughter-in-law, Marla Prest Cooper of Charleston; 19 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren; and her beloved sister, Renee Ethel (Cardell) Cook.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by a son, William Robison Cooper and a son-in-law, David E. Perkins.
Throughout her life, June was a cheerful, positive influence on all she met. She believed in living each day to the fullest and making the best out of any situation. June often remarked that she was grateful and thankful for all the good things that have happened in her life and that her goals were to live each day in joy, do good and enjoy the journey.
A funeral service honoring and celebrating her life was held on June 13, 2015 at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston, with Reverend Dr. Bob Swickard officiating. Burial, with Military Honors conducted by the Charleston VFW Paul McVey Post 1592, followed in Roselawn Cemetery in Charleston. It is requested that thoughtful donations in her honor be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.