Once again, our city has lost one of its finest from among those long-time citizens who came to a once sleepy little fishing village and gave of themselves to make it a good place to live, work, and worship.
June Elizabeth Duke Hinds has now taken up residence in a place even more paradisal than a balmy spring day in Destin with pink azaleas in full bloom.
A sometimes feisty lady of great strength and determination, Miss June decided she wasn’t going to die until she danced at the wedding of her grandson, Andrew. No doubt, she worked out some understanding with God and achieved her goal to do just that a few weeks ago.
She adored that young man and his new wife, Ann. And since I was privileged to be his teacher at Destin Christian Academy, I could understand why she loved him so much. I’m also certain his no-nonsense philosophy came from Grandmother June, along with her keen ability to read people’s minds and hearts.
One Sunday morning, I was in a snit after Sunday School because someone had hurt my feelings. Deciding to leave for home and not stay for the sermon, I was about to make good on my escape when June demanded, “And just where do you think you’re going?”
I briefly considered several good fibs such as having a headache, left the iron on, or my house was on fire. But it would do no good with this very intuitive lady. She insisted, “Now, you just sit right down beside me and whatever’s bothering you can wait ‘till preaching’s over.” I obediently sat down on the pew beside her as she patted my hand, as if saying, “That’s a good girl.”
A resident of Destin since 1958, she and her husband Charles ran a radio and TV repair shop, became active in the community, and served First Baptist Church faithfully. I discovered she was a meticulous record keeper after I found her clerk books from the early days of the church in an old trunk after the relocation to Beach Drive from Forest Street. When I took over as clerk, I had no trouble transferring and reconstructing member records from her neatly flowing handwriting, with every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Something tells me she was equally as thorough when she managed the office of her daughter, Dr. Carla Hinds, of whom she was “Mama Proud.”
Her service at First Baptist was a most fitting tribute to the fine Christian saint that she was.
Now, I’m not saying she was “perfect,” but if anyone deserves the title of saint, June Hinds did. As her pastor defined it, the designation describes one who names Jesus as Lord, serves Him as witness, and has the spirit of Christ within. No one who knew Miss June would disagree.
Several in the congregation shared one-word descriptions of Miss June: feisty, kind, loving, wise, Southern, lady, Christian. But as one of the speakers said, “If you knew her, no words were necessary. If you didn’t know her, no words would be adequate.”
Those of us gathered to say our farewells to our dear friend were reminded that even as a casket stood before us, Miss June was not there. She had left her poor cancer-ridden body, took only her sweet soul with her to heaven, and left behind wonderful memories and a legacy of love for her family, her church and her community.
Before taking her leave, she gave her loved ones a very special memory. Some of First Baptist’s choir members went to visit her a few days before she died. Gathered around her bedside, they sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” for her as she listened with eyes closed. Then, she began to sing the words. She never made another utterance after that. Her last words were sung in praise to the God she loved so much.
As Andrew played the piano and sang his tribute to his beloved Grandmother, Miss June has indeed taken her “trip on that good old gospel ship.” She’s left this “world of sin” and gone “sailing through the air.”
Well, Miss June, I can just picture you sailing beyond Destin’s beautiful emerald waters and across the River Jordan to find Jesus waiting at Heaven’s dock.
Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.