June Hills DeVoto
Our mother, June Hills DeVoto, died 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 whom she is survived. Her older sisters were Lucia Essig and Emily Aasted.
June is also survived by her 5 children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. She adored and was so proud of her progeny, happy to tell anyone willing or not willing to listen.
In line with this pride was her fascination with our family’s genealogy. Rich with family stories, 7 ancestors on the Mayflower, a Cape Cod lighthouse keeper, a scout for the Boston Braves and multiple accomplished professors—including her father, a mathematician—she spent her retirement searching for more. Perhaps this passion for familial history helps to explain 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 that which she loved so deeply.
A California girl, she grew up in Sherman Oaks and Westwood. Fond memories of hers included summers at the Camp Fire Girl Camp in the San Bernardino mountains, Spring Breaks in Palm Springs, the family’s trailer at Paradise Cove, and water ballet at the Hollywood Athletic Club. She was such a graceful swimmer!
Other fun bits from her early life include her brief modeling career, being on the Queen for a Day Show, modeling at the Pig and Whistle, and at the Home Show in LA. She possessed an indelible allure 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 enormous sweet tooth, hers was not at a chocolate factory.
Mom attended Santa Monica City College and then transferred to UCLA, where she was an Alpha Delta Pi, memories she cherished dearly. She did not graduate from UCLA, as during the summer before her final year, she met her first husband, Richard De Voto. With him, she had many wonderful adventures, living in Colorado, Tripoli, Libya and traveling around the Middle East and Europe. She completed her BA in English at the University of Denver while living in Golden, CO. Following the dissolution of her first marriage, Mom married her second husband, Robert John Lickus (by whom she is survived), and in 1972 they moved to Santa Barbara. To mom, Santa Barbara was the best place on earth, staying for the next 50 years.
In 1974, Bob and June joined the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) and took up sailing with a fervor. A lifetime member of the SBYC, it was her home away from home. Following her second divorce, she became the first single woman member and the first woman on the Board as the SBYC Historian. She was also awarded SBYC Woman of the Year in 1997 and Outstanding Person of the Year in 1986 and 2000.
Remembrances of her sailing and time at the SBYC include her behind the tiller as captain in regattas, cruises to the islands and swearing like a good sailor. Or you might find her standing on the SBYC deck as part of the race committee, shooting shotgun blanks to mark the start of the race. She was often the life of the party and delighted in being with her fellow sailors.
On the more refined side, she played in the annual SBYC domino tournament and was a member of the bridge club—playing every Thursday. And during the holidays, she treated her grandkids to the SBYC Santa and his bag of gifts. She cherished the Yacht Club.
Another huge love of hers 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 made it impossible for her to continue. She loved musicals, but only those with happy endings. And at every birthday, she carried the tune of Happy Birthday with an operatic flourish.
When she became a single mother, she worked as a medical assistant and then medical transcriber up until her retirement. As a result of all those years listening to doctor’s transcriptions, Mom was the best source for finding out which doctor to see and had an encyclopedic understanding of medicine.
Fantastic with babies, adoring children, and coming from a family of academics, in her 50’s, mom went back to school and earned her Masters in Early Childhood Education from UCSB.
She learned to drive in Los Angeles and never shook the LA driver in her—she adored her white Buick with green top before it was stolen, driving at top speeds, rolling stops, challenging others to drag race, gunning her engine at stoplights, and she was a pro at driving with her knee on the wheel while applying makeup. She was white knuckle frightening at times to drive with, but often hilarious.
No one could tell her what she could and couldn’t do. She prided herself on her strength, moving things by herself, fixing whatever needed fixing, installing her son’s car stereo after he’d become frustrated, clearing out rain gutters, cutting down trees, moving furniture, her sabot, or her kayak. “I got this,” swiping any help away. She was frustrating at times for those around her and in the end, as she refused a walker and hearing aids. However, she was always the first to laugh at her comical misinterpretations of what was said.
This strength, resiliency, and humor of hers enabled her to live by her own rules whenever possible. She was the captain of her own boat throughout, and to her credit, she paved the way for future women members at the SBYC.
We could go on and on. Our mother, her complex and marvelous life, her wit, vivacity, strength, willfulness, she was a force of nature. She will be sorely missed.
From the song that ended each evening at her beloved Camp Fire Girl Camp: “Day is done, Gone the Sun, From the Lakes, From the Hills, From the Sky, All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.”
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations in her memory be made to either the Santa Barbara Choral Society or the Santa Barbara Master Chorale.