Our mother died at 94 years old. June was the daughter of Lester G. and Thelma (Shumway) Weinheimer, born April 19, 1928. She grew up in Western New York where in high school, June displayed her rebellious side by skipping school to see the popular bands of the day like Cab Calloway and Tommy Dorsey. This independent spirit drove her to attend Schauffler College in Cleveland, Ohio against her parents’ wishes and without their support. Marriage and motherhood interrupted her studies, but she later completed her B.S. and two master’s degrees in education at Eastern Michigan University. She taught in Ann Arbor Public Schools for 28 years and was an adjunct professor of education at both the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. She was the first president of the Washtenaw Reading Association, and held offices in Phi Delta Kappa, after being one of the first two women admitted in 1971.
An inspiring educator, she enthusiastically wrote four study units on China, Kenya, Mexico, and Nepal for the Ann Arbor Public schools. She also authored a student reader and teachers’ guide on the United Nations titled “A Global Family.” Michigan State University awarded her the award for Community Contributions to International Understanding. Recently, a former student who had our mother as his 4th-grade teacher sent us a note to say that June was the best, most compassionate, and caring teacher he ever had. This is but one comment from many past students, parents, and fellow teachers who June influenced.
June also lived an engaged life in the Ann Arbor community. She was the first president of the Huron Valley United Nations Association–USA, co-founder of WPA, president of the Ann Arbor League of Women Voters, education chair of AAUW, and Convener of Gray Panthers, and she led the Drink Tap Water campaign in Ann Arbor. She was a finalist in the Ann Arbor News’ Citizen of the Year for 2002. She worked tirelessly to support public education in Michigan, voter protection initiatives, social justice, and anti-nuclear proliferation. A lifelong member of MEA/NEA, she also volunteered at Women’s Action for New Directions, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The many bumper stickers that she proudly displayed on the back of her car always let people know the causes she believed in and supported.
June was a lifelong learner, curious about the world and eager to experience other cultures by hosting foreign students in her home and through international travel. Some of her favorite destinations were Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, China, Japan, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, India, and Egypt. She passed this spirit of adventure and drive to learn on to her children and grandchildren. At home, she was an avid gardener and amateur geologist who enjoyed spending many hours tending to her garden and adding new rocks to her collection. A lifelong teacher, she was also fond of sharing her knowledge and passion for environmental and geopolitical topics with her family and friends. She could often be counted on to share news clippings, books, and other materials with her loved ones.
She is survived by her dearly loved daughter Ellen, son Eric, his wonderful wife Om, and four delightful grandchildren, Jason & Maya Rusten, Jenny Clement, and Gabriel West, of whom she was immeasurably proud. There are many great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, members of our Nepalese extended family in the US, Nepal, and around the world as well as close friends whom she loved dearly. June was preceded in death by her former husband Philip Elroy Rusten, her daughter Ann West, her sisters Joan Chilcott, Joyce Kelley, Josephine Schiedel, and her brother and sister-in-law Lester (Bud) and Virginia Weinheimer.
We will greatly miss our mother, grandmother, aunt, and good friend. She lived a long and purposeful life full of good deeds, kindness towards others, and wonderful adventures.
The family will host a brief memorial/remembrance ceremony in Ann Arbor on August 6th at 10:00 a.m. at First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, Foss Chapel, 4001 Ann Arbor–Saline Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48103. If you would like to join us for June’s memorial, please send an RSVP email to: JuneRustenMemorial@gmail.com. In place of flowers, we encourage people who knew our mother to donate in her name to their local public radio station. June was an avid listener and supporter of public radio. Thank you!