June Harper, well-known resident of the Sundance area, passed away on April 6, 2017 at the Crook County Nursing Home in Sundance – not far from the Bear-Lodge ranch she managed for seventy years with her husband, Orville “Pete” Harper.
She was born Wanda June Plavan on June 2, 1924 in Riverside, California, second in a family of five children. Her parents supported the family by farming in Orange County. After graduating from Orange County High School, she attended college at UCDavis.
During WWII, she became acquainted with many of the cadet pilots at nearby Williams Field Army/Air Base and married one of them, Kenneth Gregg, in 1943. He deployed to Europe, but perished in combat. After mourning his loss, she began dating another cadet, Lieutenant Orville Harper, who she had met on a blind date. They were married on December 1, 1945 and moved into the ranch north of Sundance that Pete’s parents, Elmer and Eva Harper, had homesteaded.
That was the start of a long and successful career as a ranch wife and mother. She had two children, Gary, born in February, 1947 in Deadwood; and Sherry, born in March, 1949 also in Deadwood. June talked about that birth all of her life. It occurred in the fabled “blizzard of ’49” that old-timers here still recall. Pete and June had purchased a brand new four-wheel drive 1947 Dodge Powerwagon. Pete chained it up and got them up and down the Deadwood hill through the storm for a successful delivery. After that, they couldn’t bear to part with that workhorse and June retained title until her death.
As a ranch wife, she was active in churches in the Sundance and Spearfish areas. She loved to socialize with other church families, especially large ones who could provide her children with friends and mentors. She loved children, her own best of all, and would often accompany them to nearby swimming holes; not to swim, but just to enjoy their larks. She was proud of them even when, as children do, they sometimes did not meet her high expectations.
She was preceded in death by her husband Pete; a brother, Dick Plavan; and a sister, Jeanne Plavan Conner. She is survived by a sister, Joy Plavan Hahn; a brother Gary Plavan; her son Gary, now living in Oregon; and her daughter Sherry, living in Montana. She will be missed and fondly remembered.
At Mom’s request no services, memorial, or gravesides will be held. She asked to “just be buried with Dad.” They are interred at Black Hills National Cemetery. You have all honored Mom while she was living with your visits, phone calls, cards and flowers. She expressed her appreciation of these kindnesses.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com