December 14, 1923 ~ June 9, 2020
Born in: Grand Island, New York
Resided in: Duluth, Georgia
June Marie Elsesser Dukes was born December 14, 1923 in Buffalo and grew up in Grand Island, NY. On June 9, 2020 she began enjoying a sweet gin gimlet with all the many family and friends that preceded her in death: her husband, Robert A Dukes, Jr, brother Leland E. Elesser, Jr., parents, Leland E. Elsesser Sr, and Florence (Hoctor). Growing up during the Great Depression, June celebrated her 18th birthday one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and worked in the aviation industry after graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Niagara Falls, NY. Three days after her 20th birthday, she joined the Marine Corps, serving from 1943-46 in motor transport. That’s correct, June drove a truck in Adak, Alaska.
After the war, she earned a nursing degree at Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo and joined the Navy Nurse Corps from 1951-59. She married her fellow marine and late husband at Camp Lejeune, NC in January of 1959. June continued with her vocation in nursing until her retirement in 1988 from the VA Hospital in Augusta, Ga.
June had a very active retirement including caring for her grandchildren, joining multiple groups at church, and travelling. A highlight came in 2006 when she visited Ireland with members of her family to look up some relatives, which were found in the small town of Birr. While on a tour of the Old Jameson’s Distillery in Dublin, June’s enthusiasm led her to be selected to sample five different whiskeys. June took a sip of each, then passed the glass to her son to finish. Thanks Mom.
It was in June’s nature to care for others and she touched many lives. She had many titles in her life: Corporal, Lieutenant, Sis, and Mrs. The title of Mom brought her much joy and she is survived by her son Robert A. Dukes, III and daughter-in-law Lynn Fleetwood Dukes; her daughter, Ann Dukes Whitley and son-in-law Chuck Whitley. Her most cherished title was Grammy to Robert, Caroline and Alexis Dukes; and Gammie to Bud and Sara Whitley, and Jackson Whitley and Caitlin Murray. Her final title of Great Gammie was achieved with Lillyann Whitley in 2019.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at a later date at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Johns Creek, Ga. June will be buried alongside her husband at Sweetwater Baptist Church in North Augusta, SC. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Special Olympics, FOCUS (Families of Children Under Stress), or St. Jude’s Children’s’ Hospital.