Three glasses of milk a day is the secret to living a long life. This wasn’t a statement made by a doctor, or a life-long researcher of health. It was said by June Christensen, who recently turned 105 on June 20, and who judging by her years, just might be someone worth listening to.
With round pearl earrings, a light pink jacket, and nail polish on her frail hands, June was the picture of elegance and grace when celebrating her birthday on June 18 with friends and family at Faithful Hearts Assisted Living Home. When asked what June thinks of reaching such a milestone – her response is one of thankfulness, with no recognition to herself.
“I don’t think a thing about it,” said June. “I have wonderful friends and have had a very good birthday, which I’m thankful for.”
Surrounded by green trees and a close-knit community, June spent most of her life in the northeastern part of the U.S. in Michigan. She married in her mid-twenties to widower, A.M. Christensen who is more affectionately known as “Christy”, who had two young sons. Not many years later the two had a son named David who is now the only one still living among the brothers.
Apart from raising her three sons June spent much of her time being involved in the church where she served for more than 50 years as an organ player until losing her eyesight from macular degeneration. Great niece, Edith Swiatek, says that June’s joy for serving and people was evident in how many friends she had.
“She has a pleasant grace about her and is classy woman and I think that’s what people loved about her,” said Swiatek. “Unlike her two younger sisters I think she was more outgoing and more of an extrovert.”
After her husband and two sons died, June moved to Tucson in the late 90s to be closer to other family members. Upon arrival, June didn’t immediately reside in an assisted living home but rented her own apartment where she stayed for a few years. Swiatek smiles as she recalls a memory of June living in the apartment.
“Here is a generation that overall is very frugal with their money, but I just remember one day that June said ‘I want to refurnish this entire apartment’,” said Swiatek. “I was surprised because, I mean, here is this elderly woman wanting to buy a bunch of new furniture. So, she did and the funny thing is she moved out about a year later into the assisted living home and took hardly any of the furniture with her.”
June became a resident at Faithful Hearts Assisted Living Home eight years ago. Throughout these years June has touched the lives of the other women in the home with her sweet temperament.
“She always has a smile on her face and is the sweetest and most polite person,” said Jennie Adams, who has been a caregiver since June arrived. “Every year we just keep celebrating. When she turned 100, that was big, and now she is 105 and is doing just as well as she was a few years ago. She’s pretty stable in her health and it’s amazing for her reaching this age.”
Every year since turning 100, June has received congressional and state recognition in forms of certificates and letters as a way of honoring her many years of life. Even with such praise, nothing compares to being around her family, friends and topping off her birthday celebration with her favorite chocolate mousse cake.