June Hurley Young

Leaving a Learned Legacy

By Sally Yoder

Photos courtesy of the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum

June Hurley with a Romper Room student. She was the local TV teacher for the children’s educational program which often feature children of beach residents.

Education of children can mean different things to different people, but to local resident June Hurley Young it has played a huge part in her life.

In her high school days June was one of a group called the “Webb City Poster Girls.” These pretty, young ladies promoted the famous Webb City, “The World’s Largest Drug Store in St. Petersburg,” known then for its unusual promotions, 5¢ ice cream cones, and any drug store item one needed all under the direction of founder “Doc” Webb.

After graduating in early 1950s from Florida State University, Tallahassee, June taught in several local elementary schools including Pasadena Elementary. She was a popular teacher with both students and parents and her love of education and children shone brightly.

She married her high school sweetheart, Ken Hurley and had a son, Sean and a daughter Kathleen. In the early 1960s she was selected by the syndicated television show “Romper Room,” to be the local host and spent years known as the TV teacher Miss June in the Romper Room TV schoolroom.

June (seated left) at chamber of commerce dinner in 1960 with husband Ken standing left, Col. Frank Hurley (seat- ed center) Frank, Jr. (standing right) and family friend.

During her tenure she had many children enjoyed, benefited and learned though her special way of teaching. Miss June and her puppet helper, a very busy bee who stressed yes and no examples, hands on work, stories and original interviews with the five “students” that appeared each week, became popular quickly. Many beach youngsters were visitors over the years. June’s teaching was always fresh, lively and colorful to help keep interest alive in the four and five year olds.

After retirement June moved on to work at the Hurley and Associates Real Estate in Pass-a-Grille. She later remarried and took up the Save the Don project. The VA moved the last remaining clinic out in 1969, leaving the old hotel idle and becoming an eyesore with vandals moving in and out, pidgins setting up housekeeping on the top floor, and chunks of plaster falling off the outside walls; it looked like no one wanted the eight-story pink structure. But June headed up a small local committee to help preserve and save the beautiful hotel from destruction. Her strong determination kept the local group focused on its goal and many say without June’s input the building would have been demolished.

June Hurley Young enjoying an evening at the Don CeSar; the five star hotel that would have been demolished had she not lead the charge to save the historic structure.

Throughout the years June picked up her pen and authored books about historic places and people she knew or had encountered. Her books include: “The Don Cesar Story,” published in 1974 with seven reprints; “How to be Your Child’s Best Teacher,” published in 1980; “Florida’s Pinellas Peninsula,” published in 1983 and reprinted in 2000; “The Vinoy…Faded Glory Renewed,” published in 1998; and her last book was about Bill Bowman, “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Do It,” published in 2007.

June Hurley Young went from a teacher in the public schools and on TV to community advocate and author; alldoneandpresentedinherappealing,soft and demure manner. Her legacy is all of the above, but probably the one closest to heart was touching the lives of so many children through her gentle teaching.

A legacy of which to be proud Miss June!