June Sturz, a 35-year-old Bayonne resident who wrote her “In Tune With June!” column on arts and culture in News from the Community of Bayonne since the 1980s, died peacefully on March 2 at the age of 95.
June was the beloved wife of the late Isaac Peikon. She is survived by her son Andy Peikon and his wife Andrea; her daughter Jolie Marcus and her husband Michael; and his son James Peikon and his wife Dorrie. June was also the devoted grandmother of six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Andy, Jolie and Jolie’s daughter Rachel spoke to the News from the Community of Bayonne about June’s life and the legacy of love she leaves behind.
One with the music
June was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn on November 17, 1926, to Jack and Augusta Gruber. She met Isaac, the father of her children, when they were only four years old; they both lived in the same building. According to her family, June grew up in a musical home.
June’s mother played the piano in silent films to enroll in dental school at Columbia University. His mother also taught him to play the piano, thus beginning his life’s journey with music. According to Andy, June was very fond of swing and big band, as well as many popular 1930s jazz standards.
“She got her start as a child, learning from her mother,” Rachel said. “Then she took it from there. She could pretty much Sit on the piano and sing any piece any song by heart.
“She got her little grand piano at 16,” Jolie said. “There was always a piano in his apartment in Brooklyn.”
June attended New Utrecht High School, during which she played piano in a school trio until she was invited to play in a pub and her parents ended it. She then earned an undergraduate degree at Ohio University, where she played piano at a local movie theater like her mother and hosted a college radio station on Tuesday nights, among other extracurricular activities.
June also earned an MA in American Literature from Columbia University. Her family said she was extremely intelligent and wise. After graduating, June and Isaac eventually moved from Brooklyn to River Edge in Bergen County, where they started their family.
“Music and family were his greatest passions in life,” Andy said. “She was an amazing pianist and singer.
“When she used to write cards, she didn’t sign it with grandma but with a musical note,” Rachel said.
“June was proud but not arrogant,” Jolie said. “She was proud to share her joy and entertain her community with her love of music and to always give back.”
In addition to raising her three children, June taught at a temple in a nearby community on weekends. She also performs regularly with her friend Blanche Waltzer in the role of “June and Judy”.
Big fan of Bayonne
In 1977 her husband Isaac died, widowed June at age 50. At the time, she ran a career opportunities program for the Boy Scouts, where she appeared on The Joe Franklin Show with the soft ice cream company’s Tom Carvel. A few years later, she moved to Bayonne in 1982 when she married the late Melvin Sturz. Since then, she has made the city her home.
“She loved living in Bayonne,” Andy said. “She moved to Bayonne and immediately started to have an impact… He was a very charitable person. »
For more than 20 years, June was the proud conductor of the Orchester Senior de Bayonne and was a frequent guest with the famous Vince Giordano’s Band in New York. She has also performed at a number of other events, from family reunions to holiday festivities and other concerts at the 56th Street Senior Center, the Bayonne Jewish Community Center, the Bayonne Public Library and the series of Summer Sounds by the Bay concerts at 16th Street Park. .
“I will always remember my mother in front of Vincent Giordano’s group on his 90and birthday at Café Iguana in New York,” Andy said.
“She sang at my wedding with the band when my husband and I got married,” Jolie said. “I went to all his concerts after his return to the region. I used to sit in the front row all the time and sing. I knew all the Oils because I had grown up with her playing.
“Wherever there was a piano, she would sit and play,” Rachel said.
June also created and taught the “Healthy Bones” and “Suddenly Single” adult classes in town. And his contributions to the community have not gone unnoticed. In 2007, the city honored June as an “exceptional citizen of Bayonne”. According to Andy, June couldn’t walk down the street in Bayonne without coming across a friendly face, being heavily involved in the community.
“She touched a lot of people,” Andy said. “She had an incredibly resilient spirit. She always bounced back back and she always created new friendships and new activities. His greatest passions in his life were his family and his music.
“Everyone knew her for her smile,” Jolie said. “She was always smiling and saying hello to everyone. She had a great mind.
“In Accordance with June!”
In addition to her musical accomplishments and community impact, June was also a longtime columnist. She first wrote for a gossip column for her high school newspaper, the New Utretch News. Later in life, June wrote for the New Jersey Jazz Society for many years with the “Jazz on June” column.
When June moved to Bayonne, she became involved in News from the Community of Bayonne and launched a new column called “In Tune with June!” She wrote this column for decades, until she couldn’t do it anymore. However, her timeless words live on, immortalized in the columns she wrote.
“She was always talking about music, but she was really talking about the news and other things that were going on,” Rachel noted. “People expected her to write for older people, but she wrote on topics for all ages.”
June was the family’s source for everything from daily news and events to sage-level words of wisdom. Even when she moved from Bayonne to a retirement home in Paramus, June continued to entertain with her musical abilities.
“She would entertain the whole place there and fill the house, with people sitting outside the room as well,” Jolie said. “Everyone loved him so much.”
June was loved everywhere, but no one loved her more than her family, whom she cherished even more than her music. According to Jolie, she was the matriarch and the glue of the family.
“Her joy made any room sparkle,” Jolie said, quoting something someone wrote on a card about June. For Jolie, this sentence described her perfectly.
“From leading a senior orchestra for over three decades, to writing monthly columns in the local newspaper, to creating and leading ‘Healthy Bones’ and ‘Suddenly Single’ classes in her community, the ability to grandmother June to hold a room full of fully engaged people with her smile, her talent and her presence were unparalleled,” Rachel said. “But I think her greatest quality, her lasting legacy to her family, cannot be expressed in words. Only in feelings. And those feelings and memories of love, togetherness and joy will live on in our hearts forever.
To read one of his columns for the Bayonne Community News online, type “In Tune with June!” in the search bar of hudsonreporter.com.
For updates on this story and others, visit www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at [email protected]