The mere mention of June Ellis’ name brings a smile to those with whom she was so endeared. A fun-loving woman, her life was centered on her family and those she held dear. Everyone always felt at home in the presence of June with her beautiful smile as well as friendly and helpful ways. Although her warm embrace is now but a lasting memory, the devotion and dedication with which she tirelessly gave will remain a cherished treasure that will never be forgotten.
Born Naomi June LaPlante on June 9, 1928 in the Upper Peninsular City of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Naomi shared her birth day with her twin brother, Eugene. Together they grew-up with their older sister, Wanda and were later joined by their little sister, Audrey. Naomi preferred to be called June, and used that name the remainder of her life. The daughter of Edward and Esther (Fremling) LaPlante, her father was a hard working man and was a Native American of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Her father, like many in their family, worked long, arduous hours on the lake freighters hauling iron ore. Although life for many during this time was filled with the enjoyable shenanigans of Laurel and Hardy, the gaiety of the Roaring 20s soon gave way to the difficult times during the Great Depression.
With the onset of the Depression, times were certainly bleak in the U.S. Struggle and hardship touched the very core of the once thriving nation and often left many poor and without work, just like June’s family. They eventually moved to Wisconsin where opportunities for work were better. Settling into the Milwaukee area, June attended East Center Street Grade School and after developing an interest in music, she went on to play the cello. Never one to particularly like school, June began high school at Rufus King High School. While anxious to begin living life because she had “better things to do”, she left her school years behind in the 9th grade.
As June blossomed into a beautiful young girl World War II began raging overseas. Much was being done for the war effort and a sense of worried optimism filled the air. Young June was around 16 when a striking U.S. Marine caught her attention while she was at Bradford Beach with a friend. Quite smitten with George Matzat, June even commented to her friend that he was the guy for her. In love, they sealed their love in marriage on September 15, 1945 in Quantico, Virginia where George was stationed. Over the years June and George enjoyed a love of music and liked going to dances. Even though George was never one for dancing, they together enjoyed the sounds of the big bands and swing music. For a brief time they lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia before eventually moving back to Milwaukee where they were blessed with the birth of their first child, David. They eventually settled into a home on Delaware Avenue in the Bay View area on the south side of the city. Their family grew to include Christine in 1947, Kenneth in 1949 and Richard in 1952. Robert followed in 1953, and in 1955 Susan completed their now large family. Tirelessly devoted to them, June looked after her family with loving dedication.
June’s children meant everything to her and she lovingly made a good home for George and the kids. With her fun loving ways, June blended her good sense of humor with a loving and supportive heart. With her love of music, June often could be found dancing and singing her way around the house while doing housework. Music played an important role in their life as a family. June and George both instilled in their children their shared enjoyment of music and frequently initiated jam-sessions around the family piano. June knew the meaning of karaoke before it ever became popular, demonstrated by grabbing the microphone at Olympic Lanes while bowling,and singing to the song. With such a large family, money was often tight but they found ways to make lasting memories, especially camping at Point Beach where fun times were enjoyed by all.
In time June began working at Ressler Grocery Store as a clerk. With a heart for helping others, she was perfect for the job. Her people skills were put to good use as she welcomed many with her friendly demeanor and beautiful smile. She later began working at an area bakery before moving on to Kohl’s Food Store where she served as a bakery clerk. June truly enjoyed her work at Kohl’s and loved her regular customers and co-workers there. Her friends there were a supportive help to June when her marriage to George ended in 1971. Even so, June and George remained friends throughout their lives.
Over the next few years June concentrated on her family and work, but one night after work changed the course of her life in a new and exciting way. She decided to stop in at Chet’s Hideaway, a local bar located across from Kohl’s. There she met Marvin Ellis who was also divorced. A plumber by trade, Marvin was working at Chet’s as a part-time bartender when he laid eyes on June. They soon began dating and made for a genuine, cute couple. They were married on July 15, 1978 and shared a wonderful marriage. They enjoyed and shared so many things including their families, gardening and taking care of their flowers. They found time to golf, bowl and liked going out to eat. It didn’t matter if they were just at home in their backyard spending time with their dogs or watching the birds at the feeder. June and Marvin thoroughly enjoyed simply being together. June was truly blessed to have found two fabulous men to share her life with. As a matter of fact, George and Marvin went on to become good friends.
June’s family was her life. She spent much time with her mother, whom she loved dearly and was devastated when she died. With an already beautiful smile, June lit up when surrounded by babies and children, especially her grandchildren. It didn’t take much to make June happy. She loved playing the slots, enjoyed good music and going to movies.
It was difficult for June to leave her job at Kohl’s when arthritis began developing in her knees. In time she began showing signs of Alzheimer ’s disease and before long it quickly advanced. With his own health issues, Marvin had cause for concern as he was limited in the help he could provide June. On December 31, 2004 June moved to Franciscan Villa in South Milwaukee where she could receive the additional care she so needed. With June now in good hands, her beloved Marvin died less than two weeks later on January 12, 2005. While at the Franciscan Villa June became endeared to the staff there where the mere mention of her name brought a smile to their faces. With her health continuing to decline, June sadly died on Monday, July 26, 2010 at the age of 82.
Foremost to June was her family. She adored and loved each of them uniquely with the love only a mother and grandmother can give. She will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
Along with her husband Marvin, June was preceded in death by her son, David Matzat. She is survived by her former husband and good friend, George Matzat; cherished mother of Christine Stadler, Kenneth Matzat, Richard (Sheri) Matzat, Robert (Sally) Matzat and Susan (Don Robertson) Schaefer; loving grandmother to Tiffany (Mark) Beyer, Katie (Brian) Herrick and Brian Matzat; great-grandmother of Kaidan, Lilani and Addison. She is further survived by her sister, Wanda Marich and her twin brother, Eugene (Rose) LaPlante; many other relatives and friends.
Family and friends will gather Thursday, July 29, 2010 from 5:00 PM until the time of the Memorial Service at 7:00 PM at the Suminski Family Funeral Homes-Niemann Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, 414-744-5156. Special thanks to the staff at the Franciscan Villa for their loving and compassionate care of June. Memorials may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern WI. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a favorite memory or photo of June or to sign her online guest book.
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