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  Comments (0) Total Thursday Apr. 17, 2014
 
Giants Among Us
Uncommon Ground
June Munski-Feenan was a giant. I was a foot and a half taller than her, but she always told me how it was. I felt short next to her. She was one of the most giving people I knew. June was a real leader.

Many of my older friends and neighbors have passed. Somehow I visualize neighbors like Gladys and Agnes meeting up with June with huge roast pans full of barbecued ribs. Barbecued ribs became a traditional use of many frozen ribs from the game at the local food bank.

June was great at getting food to hungry families. She ran the North Valley Food Bank for 35 years.

But before the newest food bank was built, June fed the hungry however she could. Over the years she and local volunteers fed thousands of people.

It was June and Gladys who taught me how to butcher turkeys and chickens. But they really taught people how to grow up better.

Back when they were kids, people didn’t have cars. Electricity was not prevalent, television unheard of, and water often hauled to the house. No wireless.

I recall Gladys telling stories of her husband working the icehouses in Whitefish and the mounds of sawdust that kept the lake cubes frozen well into the season. That’s almost unimaginable today.

June’s passing leaves a hole in Whitefish. Undoubtedly there’s a little June in all of us. It’s the next generation’s time to step up. Service builds community, and people build towns.

It was people like June, Gladys and Agnes who kept me more focused during some of my long and sometimes politically confusing legislative days in Helena. During my terms, I pushed hard for property taxes to be capped for people who live in their homes.

June, Gladys nor Agnes ever once asked for that kind of policy. Gladys often would say during local elections that when it came to school bonds, she’d support the kids.

But it’s apparent that the people who built our community should never have to worry over home taxes. It’s not homeowners’ fault that the free market ways of real estate drive Montana property tax policy.

Over recent years I’d seen June at different events or at the food pantry. She was quick with a smile and hug. And she always asked how our boys were doing. By boys, June meant politicos that we mutually knew. I’d tell her that boys like Brian Schweitzer and Jon Tester were doing great work.

She’d smile, tell me to tell them that there are a lot of hungry people out here, and we need more help. But realistically June already knew how her boys were doing. She kept up with politics and local happenings. And June could get stuff done.

June was a nice woman. She did great work. It was giants like June who kept hungry kids in Whitefish fed for decades. She truly was kind, but not many said “no” to her. I can only imagine June’s persistence as she worked two local banks and humbly asked the community to help build a new food bank.

June managed the first distribution of food from the new facility. The building is in front of the Whitefish emergency services center and next to the WAVE. It’s a great building, complete with kitchens and coolers.

I believe that if June was among us today, she’d individually ask a lot of us for help to keep feeding hungry locals. She worked hard at it during her life.

I encourage you to make any sized cash donation to the North Valley Food Bank or simply drop off boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables some Wednesday morning.
 
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