June Bell Hooper, aged 77, passed away unexpectedly on March 21, 2022 at her home. She was born on June 4, 1944 in Potsdam, NY, the daughter of Eva (Hayden) and Benjamin Bell. Her older sister Marion Bell Wood proceeded her in death. She is survived by her brother and his wife, Paul and Eileen (Eberenz) Bell; and seven beloved nieces and nephews, Sally M. Hardin of Verona, NY, Polly J. Peryer of Boise, ID, Peter E. Powell of Westmoreland, NY, Benjamin B. Powell of Rome, NY, Candace E. Bell of Roanoke, VA, Christian J. Bell of Aurora, IL, and Brian M. Bell of Wayland, MA; several cousins and many great nieces and nephews.
June graduated in 1965 from Syracuse University (Utica College) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology, and in 1967 obtained a New Brunswick Teaching Certificate from the University of New Brunswick. Her first positions were as a counselor in the disability field. These seminal experiences inspired her to become a strong and tenacious advocate for persons with disabilities. She went on to lead the Canadian Rehabilitation Council for the Disabled later named the New Brunswick Easter Seals March of Dimes from 1983 to 2006. Under her leadership the organization expanded its work to include the management of a new NB initiative aimed at providing specialized equipment to disabled seniors to support aging in place. The Loan Equipment Bank was also expanded to include a computer loan program to ensure that disabled persons without financial means could have better access to education and employment. June personally provided technical assistance to Camp Rotary to ensure improvements were compliant with best practice in the field of disability. In addition to leading ESMD, June held positions on numerous working committees and boards, including the National Research Council Standing Committee on Barrier Free Design and the Local service District of Kingsclear, NB.
She received a number of awards for her contributions to the field of disability, including the Easter Seals/March of Dimes National Council’s Keith S. Armstrong Award in 1996; The Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons Disability Awareness Week New Brunswick Award; Paul Harris Fellowship from Fredericton Rotary; and a certificate of recognition from the Occupational Therapists Association in 1995. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and in 2006 she was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame by the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons in Toronto in recognition of her tireless advocacy and achievements on behalf of the physically disabled in New Brunswick.
She chaired the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation Services and was past president of the New Brunswick Council for the Disabled. Among her many initiatives were the rehabilitation forums she started in order to bring together rehabilitation professionals from various disciplines to gain a broader understanding of rehabilitation services. She co-founded the New Brunswick Wheelchair Sports and Recreation Organization and was an active member of New Brunswick Department of Advanced Education and Labor Policy Advisory Committee on Training Needs of Disabled Students.
Raised on a dairy farm in Fort Jackson, NY, June was no stranger to hard work and machinery. These experiences also instilled a deep love of animals and nature. She met her former husband, Bill, on a wilderness trip in Idaho where she was the only woman. She and Bill bought 80 acres up on Mazerolle Settlement Rd in 1973 outside of Fredericton and built a log home. June could be seen bushhogging fields or plowing snow on her long steep driveway with her Massey Ferguson tractor. She always had a flock of chickens and a large garden—all of which made her home a delightful place for family to visit in the summer. One could be assured of a good meal too, including delicious homemade bread and cinnamon rolls. June found herself dealing regularly with a multitude of young New Brunswick biologists during her time in Mazerolle Settlement many of whom became lifelong friends. Throughout her life June always had a wide circle of friends from various walks of life who appreciated her warmth and generosity.
Always a devoted dog lover with at least several at any one time, June became deeply involved in obedience training and competitions with her various golden retrievers in the 1990’s. In the spring of 2011, she purchased the Dog Clicker School in Keswick Ridge from her mentor, Terry Pye, and began offering classes and workshops, as well as boarding dogs. No plastic lures for her--she kept a freezer full of frozen ducks and other fowl to use in training her dogs to retrieve. Like all things in her life, she pursued this new interest with intensity, as evidenced by her many competition ribbons and awards. She shared this passion with the love of her life, Mark Michaud. They were avid supporters of nature and outdoor pursuits. A pavilion on the Trans Canada Trail in New Brunswick has a plaque commemorating their shared love of the outdoors. Their names can be seen in the pavilion on the southern end of the Bill Thorpe walking bridge in Fredericton.
In addition to her love of dogs and the outdoors, June was an avid sports fan. In winter, June followed the Toronto Raptors, becoming familiar with all the players and always questioning why someone paid so much could not make every foul shot. In summer June switched to the Toronto Blue Jays and again became familiar with the rosters beginning with spring training. These interests resulted in many great discussions following games, win or lose.
A celebration of life ceremony will be held on Sunday, June 5, from 2-4 PM at the Killarney Lake Lodge. For those unable to attend in person a livestream will be available at the following link: https://vimeo.com/716902540. Contributions in her memory, can be made to Camp Rotary or the New Brunswick SPCA.