Dr. June T. Fox, an exemplar of teacher preparation and one of the key innovators of Lesley’s leading education programs, died Oct. 29 at the age of 99.
This week, the colleagues who knew her most remembered Fox — who inspired the June Fox Lecture Series launched in 1997 — recalled not only her expertise, but her personal warmth and unflagging support.
“It’s a sad day, but she lived a very full life, ’til 99,” said Professor Emerita Margery Miller, “and she really shaped for many of us a view about schools of ed, about teacher training, about the role of the classroom teacher, and how to be kind and supportive of one another.”
Fox, who was a longtime dean of education and special education, lived after her retirement outside of Chicago and was the mother of three, the grandmother 11, the great-grandmother of 25, and the great-great-grandmother of one child. That impressive line of posterity is significant, her beloved colleagues agreed, because Fox excelled both as a scholar and a family matriarch.
Attention to family and one’s personal life were things she encouraged in the faculty who worked for her, too.
“I’ve gone through many deans, and she was the best,” said Professor Emerita Anne Larkin, who recalls Fox having a true open-door policy. “If you’re having a real problem, we’ll deal with it. All my years at Lesley, there was nobody like her.”
Professor Emerita Marcia Bromfield agreed, describing Fox’s academic office as homey, with an Oriental rug and a comfortable couch that made the rounds among faculty offices after the longtime dean retired. Other times, Fox would hold department meetings in her own home in Newton, Massachusetts.
“June was just an amazing person. As a dean, she cared about everybody,” Bromfield said. “She had incredible integrity. She was a brilliant woman, a brilliant scholar.
“She was a role model of work-life balance. She had her priorities in order – she also knew that family was central,” Bromfield added, explaining that Fox was always “supporting us as professionals and as mothers: I think she made us all feel like a family, in a way.”
“She truly cared about everybody,” Larkin added.
Professionally, Bromfield referred to Fox as an innovator, crediting her with creating Lesley’s teacher collaborative internship partnerships with Shady Hill School and Buckingham Browne & Nichols. In addition, Fox’s encouragement of faculty teaching and research led to the success of numerous large-scale school initiatives, including the Technology in Education program, the Cambridge/Lesley Literacy Project, the Center for Reading Recovery & Literacy Collaborative, the Multicultural Institute for Change, and the Say Yes to Education project.
Bromfield added that, while Fox was extremely traditional in her family life, she was a feminist and a dean who, while nurturing of her faculty, was committed to excellence, scholarship and professionalism.
“She had high standards. She had expectations of people, and you wanted to meet those expectations,” Bromfield said.
“June and her ideas and her spirit and her leadership shaped what became decades of success and excellence teacher education,” recalled Miller. “She never lost sight of the value of a teacher, and really reminded us, and kept that in the front of our thinking and planning.”
“All of us who worked with her loved her and felt really lucky to have had that experience,” Bromfield said. “A lot of us were the age of her children.
“I think she really did cultivate a culture of caring.”
And Fox never stopped caring about Lesley, even long after her retirement.
Over the years Larkin would chat on the phone with Fox every two weeks for a half-hour, and hour or more. After devoting time discussing her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild — and that took some time — she pumped Larkin for information about Lesley and its people.
“She kept up with everything,” Larkin said. “We would laugh and laugh.”
And those years of mirthful and devoted conversation lasted until the end of this month. Larkin called Fox and, instead of hearing her voice, heard the sad news from Fox’s daughter.
“I cried all night,” Larkin said. “I enjoyed talking to her and she enjoyed talking to me because she wanted to know everything about Lesley.”
Everybody, not just Drs. Larkin, Bromfield and Miller, enjoyed talking to, and learning from, Dr. June T. Fox.
“In the words of a rabbi of a congregation that she and her husband founded in Newton, ‘She was the essence of eloquence, grace, compassion and kindness,” Miller said.