June Hills DeVoto – The Santa Barbara Independent

Our mother, June Hills DeVoto, passed away peacefully in her sleep on September 4, 2022 in Santa Barbara.

Born Myra June Hills, to Elijah Justin Hills and Lucia Burt Hills on March 17, 1935 in Compton, California, she was the third of four sisters, born minutes before her twin sister, Meta Jane Hills (Jane Bauman), by who she survived. Her older sisters were Lucia Essig and Emily Aasted.

June is also survived by her 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren. She adored and was so proud of her offspring, happy to tell anyone who was willing or unwilling to listen.

In line with this pride was his fascination with our family’s genealogy. Rich in family histories, 7 ancestors on the Mayflower, a Cape Cod lighthouse keeper, a scout for the Boston Braves, and several accomplished teachers, including her father, a mathematician, she spent her retirement seeking more. Perhaps this passion for family history explains why she always had a camera in hand, taking multitudes of photos (Oh, Mom, come on, not another one!), and her countless photo albums . She meticulously documented what she loved so deeply.

Californian girl, she grew up in Sherman Oaks and Westwood. Fond memories of her included summers at Camp Fire Girl Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, spring break in Palm Springs, the family trailer at Paradise Cove, and water ballet at the Hollywood Athletic Club. She was such a graceful swimmer!

Other fun bits of her early life include her brief modeling career, being on the Queen for a Day Show, modeling at the Pig and Whistle and the Home Show in Los Angeles. She has possessed an indelible look and style throughout her life.

Her first job was as a switchboard operator, and she lasted 2 days on an assembly line, like that hilarious episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy gets a job on the assembly line. Although, unfortunately for mom and her huge sweet tooth, hers wasn’t in a chocolate factory.

Mom attended Santa Monica City College, then transferred to UCLA, where she was Alpha Delta Pi, memories she treasured deeply. She did not graduate from UCLA, as during the summer before her senior year she met her first husband, Richard De Voto. With him she had many wonderful adventures, living in Colorado, Tripoli, Libya and traveling through the Middle East and Europe. She earned her BA in English from the University of Denver while living in Golden, CO. After her first marriage dissolved, Mom married her second husband, Robert John Lickus (by whom she was survived), and in 1972 they moved to Santa Barbarian. For Mom, Santa Barbara was the best place on earth, staying there for the next 50 years.

In 1974 Bob and June joined the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) and began sailing with a passion. A life member of the SBYC, it was her home away from home. After her second divorce, she became the first single female member and the first female board member as an SBYC historian. She also received the SBYC Woman of the Year award in 1997 and Outstanding Person of the Year in 1986 and 2000.

Memories of his sailing and time at SBYC include him behind the helm as captain of regattas, island cruises and swearing like a good sailor. Or you might find her standing on the SBYC deck as part of the race committee, firing blanks to mark the start of the race. She was often the life of the party and delighted to be with her fellow sailors.

On the finer side, she played in the annual SBYC dominoes tournament and was a member of the bridge club – playing every Thursday. And during the holidays, she gave her grandchildren SBYC Santa Claus and his bag of gifts. She cherished the Yacht Club.

Another of his great loves was singing. What a voice! After moving to Santa Barbara, she joined the Santa Barbara Choral Society and the Santa Barbara Master Chorale until her hearing prevented her from continuing. She loved musicals, but only the ones with happy endings. And on every birthday, she wore the tune of Happy Birthday with an operatic flourish.

Becoming a single mother, she worked as a medical assistant and then a medical transcriptionist until her retirement. After all those years of listening to doctors’ transcripts, Mom was the best source for which doctor to see and had an encyclopedic understanding of medicine.

Fantastic with babies, adoring children and from a family of college students, in her 50s, mom went back to school and earned her master’s degree in early childhood education at UCSB.

She learned to drive in Los Angeles and never wavered the Los Angeles driver in her – she loved her white Buick with a green roof before it was stolen, driving at top speeds, rolling stops, defying the others from drag racing, firing her engine at red lights, and she was a pro at driving with her knee on the wheel while putting on makeup. It was sometimes scary to drive, but often hilarious.

No one could tell her what she could and could not do. She prided herself on her strength, moving things on her own, fixing anything that needed fixing, installing her son’s car stereo after he got frustrated, cleaning gutters, chopping down trees, moving furniture, his shoe or his kayak. “I understand”, brushing aside any help. She was sometimes frustrating to those around her and in the end as she refused a walker and hearing aids. However, she was always the first to laugh at his comedic misinterpretations of what was being said.

Her strength, resilience and humor allowed her to live by her own rules whenever possible. She was always the captain of her own boat and, to her credit, she paved the way for future female SBYC members.

We could go on and on. Our mother, her complex and wonderful life, her spirit, her vivacity, her strength, her will, she was a force of nature. She will be greatly missed.

From the song that ended each night at her beloved Camp Fire Girl Camp: “The day is over, the sun is gone, lakes, hills, skies, all is well, rest safe, God is near.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in her memory be made to the Santa Barbara Choral Society or the Santa Barbara Master Chorale.

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