It is with great sadness that the WVF has learned of the passing of Mrs. June A. Willenz (USA), founder and Chair of the WVF Standing Committee on Women, long-time representative of the WVF to the United Nations and much valued member of the Federation.
As you may know, June played a very active role at the WVF for very many years, establishing the Standing Committee of Women which she also chaired from its creation until 2006. She represented the World Veterans Federation at the United Nations in New York, presenting numerous papers on our behalf and playing an extremely valuable role in maintaining the privileged relationship the WVF has with this important international body.
June remained a motivated and supportive member of the Federation even when her health did not allow her to travel to meetings, and we feel extremely honoured to have benefitted from her expertise and from her support for such a long time. She was awarded the WVF Gold Medallion on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the World Veterans Federation in recognition and gratitude for her tireless devotion to the veteran cause.
June will be greatly missed by the many WVF members and staff who had the pleasure of meeting her and working with her throughout her years of collaboration, and she will be remembered for her lifelong devotion to the causes of social equality, justice and human rights.
We offer our sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.
OBITUARY FOR MRS JUNE A. WILLENZ
Published in the Washington Post, 8-11 May 2020
On May 3, 2020, JUNE A. WILLENZ of Bethesda, Maryland passed away at the age of 95. She is survived by her loving daughters Nicole Gardner (Chris Gardner) and Pam Willenz (Michael Hieb) and grandson Christopher Gardner Jr.
She was born to Benjamin and Sara Friedenberg and raised in Brooklyn, New York. June’s long career as a global human rights advocate was characterized by human rights and social justice for all.
In 2011, June was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership and work.
She served as the Executive Director of the American Veterans Committee (AVC) for 40 years bringing into veterans affairs the AVC’s unique perspective of “citizens first, veterans second”.
Establishing a voice in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and giving a civil rights dimension to the veterans sector, she became the first woman to head the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Task Force on Military/Veterans Affairs.
She was the founder and first chair of the Committee on Women for the World Veterans Federation and was honored to receive their highest award for humanitarian service in 2018.
Her book, “WOMEN VETERANS: AMERICA’S FORGOTTEN HEROINES” documented a pattern of neglect by government agencies that received broad attention resulting in congressional hearings and remedial actions. From this point forward, Congress mandated recognition of the status of women veterans.
To further this recognition, she spearheaded the effort to establish a national memorial by creating a “Women in Military Service for America Foundation”. Endorsed by Congress, this led to the building of the Women Veterans Memorial in Arlington, VA.
Besides her dedication to making the world a better place, June treasured her time with her family, her friends, her passion for tennis and her love of travel, especially the family trips to Bethany Beach. She was an avid reader and read The Washington Post and New York Times daily. She believed in connecting to people and had a great fondness for animals and made friends all over the world.
She will be greatly missed for her huge heart, her sense of humor and her incredible spirit that brought out the best in people.
Donations can be given in her honor to:
The Women’s Memorial Foundation (https://www.womensmemorial.org/),
Doctors Without Borders: (https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/onetime.cfm),
the ASPCA (https://www.aspca.org/)
or the Round House Theater ( https://www.roundhousetheatre.org).