Born in Poland in 1908, June Salander came to the United States with her family when she was 12 years old. In 1941, she married Lew Salander and moved to Rutland, VT where he owned a store. During the War, June worked for the Red Cross, and later taught Hebrew school and became a real estate broker. She was also an accomplished baker. She celebrated her bat mitzvah at the age of 89.
In 1920, June emigrated with her family from a small town in Poland, and settled in Harlem, New York, where there was a sizable Jewish community. Daily after school, June rode the subway to the Lower East Side to attend Hebrew School. At 16, she enrolled in a secretarial course and—to help with the family’s finances in the wake of her parents’ divorce—went to work each afternoon at Woolworth’s.
June met Lew Salander through a friend’s uncle during one of Lew’s frequent buying trips to New York for his downtown Rutland store. The two dated long-distance for a while, until Lew proposed during one of June’s visits to Vermont. They married in 1941, June taking up the role of wife, homemaker, and hostess of countless dinners for her prominent-businessman husband. During World War II, She went to work for the Red Cross as a Gray Lady at the Rutland Hospital. The Gray Ladies made bandages for soldiers, delivered mail and flowers, and performed other non-medical services for the hospital’s patients.
When she arrived in Rutland in 1941, June began pitching in at the synagogue, teaching Hebrew School until the early 1970s when—in her early sixties—she embarked on a 20-year career as a real estate broker. Never having celebrated her bat mitzvah as a girl—that tradition was not commonplace in America until the 1950s—as an octogenarian, June took the opportunity to study Torah with the rabbi and five other women and, at age 89, became the oldest woman in Rutland to celebrate her bat mitzvah.
June played tennis well into her eighties, and was still traveling to Washington, DC to visit her son and his family in her nineties. In the summer of 2008 she marked her 100th birthday at a gala celebration hosted by her son Jim, his wife, Mary and their children, and attended by more than 200 guests.
June, or ‘Mamala’ as she was known to close friends and family, earned wide acclaim as a baker. She was the subject of a PBS Special on Jewish baking, and her recipes for challah and apple strudel are featured in Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America.
June passed away at the age of 101 on May 22, 2010 at her home in Rutland.