Tribute by Anie Nunnally
When I remember June Maher her very name conjures up thoughts and memories of her strengths, courage, compassion, loyalty, dedication, reliability, her humor and laughter, her joie de vivre —but most of all a heart full of love.
I am extremely grateful for the years that I have shared with June. Grateful for her work for the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, for Auroville, FWE, the sincerity of her inner journey on the path of the Integral Yoga, her love for Al, her beautiful husband and soul mate, her children; Carolyn, Grant, Warren and Norman and her grandchildren who all loved her so dearly. This includes all of her admiring friends as well.
June was “Mother Auroville.” I cannot begin to imagine how many Aurovilians stepped through her portals in Aptos, California seeking comfort and rest from their long and weary journeys from India. She fed them, housed them and embraced them all as though they were her own children.
June never discussed people in a negative manner. She focused on the good in everyone. She truly lived by the aphorism of the Mother, “The least said about others, even if it be in praise of them, the better.” She held always to a positive attitude and avoided spreading negative energies about her condition. She was always working diligently and aspiring with intention that the body would come around and that she would toss away her walker forever. In this regard she must have done some intense inner work in her last days.
I first met June in the late 1970’s at my NYC apartment on W. 57th St. We immediately forged a strong friendship as our backgrounds were similar — both being Southern Ladies. She grew up in Virginia (though born in Hawaii) as the daughter of a Navy Admiral, and I hailed from Mississippi. However, the deeper connection came through our shared experience of having had Darshan of the Mother and to our dedication to Auroville, and the Foundation for World Education work and the Planned Giving program for The FWE and AVI-USA for raising funds for Auroville.
After that first meeting June would often visit me in NYC and again when I moved to Woodstock and ultimately to California where she would visit as often as she could on her birthday on January 15th. She would come to my home in Culver City, then to Marina del Rey and later joining us at the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles when I moved to that center. We would always celebrate her birthdays with great festivity and joy.
June never turned down an opportunity to visit, and when I organized two fundraisers for Auroville Land in the early 2000’s she was on a plane and down here to Los Angeles in an instant to help me out. First for the silent auction at Bravo Restaurant in Santa Monica for Land Fund for Auroville and then a couple of years after that it was “Art for Land,” again a dinner party and art sale at Bravo Restaurant when Guy Ryckaert and Ila Zadrozny came with art pieces from Auroville which we sold for the Land Fund purchase. Whenever there was a chance to do something for Auroville June was there if at all possible.
June’s work began for Auroville through a meeting with Dietra (Claire Worden) who lived in Santa Cruz. Claire eventually moved to Auroville with her children in around 1969. On a visit to Santa Cruz in 1971 she organized a group of people who later became the Auroville Association. After Claire returned to Auroville, June was charged with the development of this group which started as a study group in her home. June eventually went to India in 1971 and met the Mother. She inquired of her as to how to develop the organization. Mother told her “No recruiting, but money may be obtained.” So a Nonprofit organization was established, still out of June’s home initially, and later on other people became the administrators and secretaries and the office floated in their various homes.
Events for Auroville, first time in America, were held in Mt. Madonna in the 1990’s, again at Merriam Hill Center in 1995 there was an all Auroville meeting. Julian Lines opened an Auroville Information Office in Woodstock, NY, and today there are Auroville Internationals all over the world. Much of this expansion and success can be attributed to June’s organizational skills and persistence in the early days; meetings with important people and fund raising.
When June joined the FWE as a board member I was still serving there. Having her on the board where she exercised her wisdom and fairness with every decision made was a blessing to behold. It was an honor to be with her and to work on the AVI-USA/FWE Planned Giving fund that was established through the FWE at that time. When I stepped down from the board we still continued to visit each other’s homes.
When her health declined after heart surgery in 2005 I was certain that she would rally. She had grit and a strong will. She was not willing to give in. She called me in April just a week before she passed and we had a long conversation about the wonderful times we had together socially and through our work. At the end I told her that I missed seeing her and being together for visits. Her final words to me were, “We will always be connected.” Those words ring in my ears with great comfort. June always talked about the “Golden Ship,” and somehow I feel that Ship was waiting for her as she left a lifetime of service and onto another realm of the Inner Journey.
She will be greatly missed by many around the world but she has left behind a noble legacy.