June Pfiester Elkins of Midland passed away Thursday January 21, 2016, in Fort Stockton at the age of 89 years. June was born on June 21, 1926, to Eddie Boyd Pfiester and Ruth Morris Pfiester in Fort Stockton. June is survived by her daughter, Rebecca Ann Hopkins; her grandson, Darrell Hopkins; her three nephews: Ed, Sam, Don P. and her two nieces: Tony Green and Sherri Basham. June was preceded in death by her husband, Joe Ben Elkins and her parents: Eddie Boyd Pfiester and Ruth Morris Pfiester.
She attended schools in Fort Stockton and Sonora, Texas. June was fifteen years old on December 7, 1941. In the patriotic ardor following the attack on Pearl Harbor, she and her high school beau, Billy Jack Wyche, married on March 7th, 1942. Shortly thereafter, Billy Jack enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served in the First Marine Division in the Pacific theatre at Peleliu, Palau, and Okinawa. On January 19, 1943, their daughter Rebecca Ann was born. June later said, "During the war Jack and I grew up very fast and grew apart." When Jack returned from the war, they were divorced but remained good friends for over fifty years.
During the war, June worked for the War Assets Administration. When the war was finally over, Gibbs Field in Fort Stockton became a storage depot for hundreds of military airplanes, which over the next few years were disposed of, some selling for a few dollars each. In 1946, June went to work as a bookkeeper at the Dr. J.F. Gipson Hospital. She soon became the office nurse, surgical nurse, OB nurse, x-ray technician, and anesthetist.
In 1947, June married Woodrow W. Matthews, the brother of sister in law, Mrs. Willis (Gene) Pfiester. The marriage did not last, but she and Woody remained good friends. In 1950, she started working as the Assistant Hospital Administrator to the Fort Stockton Memorial Hospital, a position she held for fifteen years. In 1965, she moved to Luling, Texas, and later to Austin and Koscuisko, Texas, where she did bookkeeping and tax work.
On April 19, 1952, she married Joe Ben Elkins, a marriage that lasted until his death. In 1992, she and Joe moved to Midland to be closer to her daughter Becky.
As a young girl, June spent summers with her aunt and uncle, Elmo and Ada Johnson, who owned a ranch on the Rio Grande in what is now Big Bend National Park. The rest of her life, June held a special affection for the Big Bend, and often visited there until well into her eighties. During the Easter holidays, she loved hunting arrow heads and camping out in Big Bend with her extended Pfiester family. She also loved racing cars, especially high speed races for money between Fort Stockton and Sanderson.
In 1956, she beat James Dean in an auto race from the set of "Giant" on the Worth Evans ranch in Marfa.
June was a gifted story-teller, and often enthralled her nieces and nephews with stories about the Big Bend and racing cars.
The men who fought in WWII deserve our honor. The women who stayed behind and raised children as teenage war brides and who helped the war effort should be equally honored. June's service to her country, to her community, to her family, and to her faith, marks her as one of the Greatest Generation. She will sorely be missed.
There will be a Graveside service that will take place on Tuesday morning, January 26, 2016, starting at 10a.m., at East Hill Cemetery in Fort Stockton.
Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at: www.heritagefuneralhomeofthebigbend.com
James Hall Location Manager Heritage Funeral Home of the Big Bend
(432) 336-3939 Voice (432) 336-3949 Fax