“Queen of Brooklin” June Eaton dies at 93

BROOKLIN — The town of Brooklin is mourning its beloved former town clerk, librarian, historian and all-around do-gooder, June Eaton, who died on Dec. 24.

Eaton was 93.

“When I moved here in 1997, there were people who referred to June as the queen of Brooklin or the mayor of Brooklin,” said Nancy Randall. “She was the embodiment of everything good here. She knew everyone. She remembered everything.”

Eaton was one of the founding members of the keeping society. She was also town clerk for 36 years. She retired from the town office in 1993. She was an assistant librarian at Friend Memorial Library. And she stayed home to raise five children.

“Her contribution to Brooklin is so huge and tremendous and important it’s literally hard to put it in words,” said Brooklin Selectman Bill Cohen. “Her years of service sometimes were taken for granted but they were so important. Even today there are still things we do because of June’s leadership. She has a legacy that will live on for a very long time.”

Good friends Ronald and Mary Fowle remarked on Eaton’s independence. She walked to work at the library and at the keeping society twice a week from her home in West Brooklin to the center of town. That was about 2.5 miles one way.

Former Friend Memorial Library director Stephanie Atwater thinks Eaton retired from the library in 2012. When they worked together, Atwater would often pass Eaton walking on the road and stop to offer Eaton a ride.

“She had no interest in a ride,” Atwater said. Eaton would say thanks but always decline, saying she would get “too stiff” if she didn’t walk.

“She was just, you know, the sweetest person in the world,” Atwater said. “All she wanted to do was make people happy and welcome and help people with whatever they needed. She was just the perfect granny to everybody. She was a real anchor.”

Despite her independence, Eaton gladly accepted help from Ronald Fowle in getting heavy bags of bird seed to her house.

“She fed all the birds and everything else in the neighborhood,” said Ronald. “June was a good neighbor.”

Eaton was a trustee for the Rockbound Chapel, giving that service up just maybe a month before she passed, the Fowles recalled.

“She never missed a hymn sing,” said Ronald. “She was the town fenceviewer too. A fenceviewer is the one who settled any property disputes.”

“It goes back ancient years,” Mary Fowle added.

Eaton’s ability to smooth ruffled feathers kept the keeping society in good stead.

“When things would flare up at the keeping society, she’d remain quiet,” Sullivan said. When tempers settled down, Eaton would say what she thought. “It was quiet and rational and made a lot of sense and everyone would quiet down.”

“I worked with June for years at the keeping society,” said Clare Sullivan. “My love for June was all personal.”

The keeping society received a grant to document all the diaries from the Flye family.

“As we went through them, she would have the most wonderful stories she would tell,” said Sullivan. The stories weren’t about the Flye family but just stories in general. “It was just great to listen to her. I’m not from Brooklin originally. She was a very kind woman. She was living in Ellsworth when they had the big fire. She told me that story. She loved it in Ellsworth because she would play all day in the stores on Main Street.”

The Brooklin native went to high school in Massachusetts and after graduating in 1945, returned to Brooklin and married Raymond Eaton a year later, according to a history written when the Alumni Association presented her with Brooklin’s Citizen of the Year Award in 1996.

According to that history, Eaton never drove a car but no need. She was busy at home.

“There was wreathing to do, and boy or girl scouts to organize, and gardening and other chores to share with Raymond. There was baking to do, most of it for the family but also for other people’s weddings and parties. (In fact, there’s a theory in the family that her honorary membership in the Alumni Association had a lot to do with yeast rolls.) Year after year, the town meeting book featured a town clerk’s report that was far more than just a record of how many of us were born, got married, or licensed our dogs. It was a real, narrative record of every action the town took over the year — every vote with explanations of what each one meant, every debate at town meetings, rendered to make us look like we knew what we were doing. Like June, that report was concise and efficient, using just the right words to evoke the moment.”

“She had the kindest heart of anybody I knew,” said Lorna Grant. “She’s just one of the ladies who gave everything she had to the town.”

And in turn, on Aug. 23, 2015, Brooklin held June Eaton Recognition Day.

The proclamation states: “Whereas the residents of Brooklin have benefited from her service to the Brooklin Keeping Society as a founding member and historian; and whereas the residents of Brooklin have benefitted from June’s experience as Town Clerk and Librarian, giving her a historical perspective that few others have; and whereas the residents of Brooklin have been blessed to benefit from the enthusiasm and can do spirit from June Eaton; and whereas June actively participates in, and personally enjoys, singing, acting, cake decorating, flower arranging; and whereas it is important for the residents of Brooklin to recognize years of dedicated service to our community, therefore we, the Brooklin Selectboard, join the Brooklin Keeping Society and declare Sunday, August 23, 2015, as June Eaton Recognition Day.”

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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