The truly remarkable Dr. June E. Blum nee Epstein passed away peacefully in her home in Manhattan on November 17, 2022. She was 102 years old. June was born on June 1,1920 in Jamaica, Queens, to Jeanette Raphael Epstein and Alexander Epstein. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Stanley Blum, her brother, Gustav Epstein, and her sister, Sybil Moskowitz.
Nicknamed June Rose, June grew up during the Great Depression in Hollis, Queens. She first attended Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C., then transferred her junior year to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There she met the love of her life, Stanley. Engaged two weeks after meeting, June and Stanley eloped their senior year and were married for 75 years.
June earned her bachelor's degree in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1941), her master’s degree in Psychology from Columbia University (1950), her Ph.D. in Psychology from St. John's University (1969), and she did psychoanalytical training at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. In 1972, June co-authored a landmark 20-year longitudinal study of geriatric twins. The study demonstrated a strong genetic component of the aging process, and a tie between physical and mental impairments in aging. She and Dr. Lissy Jarvik did this work at Columbia Psychiatric Institute, and it was the subject of June’s doctoral dissertation.
In short order June became a force in the field of geriatric psychology and a clinical expert in group psychotherapy for the geriatric population. As early as the late 1990s, June was focused on the concept of a fourth chapter of life, showing how older Americans could apply their wisdom, experiences, and skills to continue to lead productive lives in their later years. This was a novel concept at that time. June was very proud to be an Associate Attending Psychologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. She retained her faculty affiliation for over 40 years. She was a beloved supervisor, associate, and clinician. On her 100th birthday during COVID, June sat outside her apartment building while her colleagues from Cornell gathered to serenade her with a happy birthday song.
June ultimately went into private practice, where she worked with clients well into her 90’s. Her patients were aided by her caring wisdom and generosity of spirit.
June and Stanley raised their family in Valley Stream, L.I., where she worked as a school psychologist while earning her Ph.D. Later they moved to homes in Manhattan and upstate Rhinebeck, where they lived for close to 40 years. Wherever they resided, their neighbors became friends and they thrived, enjoying conversation, jazz, art, poetry, and rooting for the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s college basketball team. June and Stanley cherished the time they spent in their Rhinebeck home, which had a pool, a porch with beautiful wisteria vines, and a barn. For many years, the Blums hosted an annual jazz picnic at their Rhinebeck home to benefit the Northern Dutchess Hospital.
June's neighbors in her building in Manhattan and her wonderful doormen became family, as did all of the kind staff and owners of the restaurants of 79th street to 81st street on Third Avenue. June’s favorites were Eli's, Luke's, Due, and Antonucci Café. June had a hearty appetite, an eclectic palate, and she liked her soup very hot! June loved to nosh, inventing the cannibal sandwich from freshly made chopped meat.
June had a radiant smile and a joyful laugh. She was a keen observer. When you were with June, she made you feel special, truly seen and heard. She was a wonderful friend, fun-loving, and supportive. She loved to bring people together. June saved everything - letters and pictures, and antiques. She treasured the stories about each item. June was a life-long Democratic. She was passionate about social causes.
Appearance mattered to June – She enjoyed her table set with beautiful dishes. She always wore fabulous outfits of fine fabrics like linen, cashmere, or silk. She accessorized with a scarf, stylish jewelry like her signature pearls, an adorable hat, or all three of those combined! She treated herself to facials, manicures, and pedicures. She rarely missed a daily application of olive oil on her face to maintain her youthful complexion. June promised Stanley she would take care of herself after he was gone, and she kept that promise to him. She missed him deeply, and it is a comfort to know they are now together.
June is an inspiration to all, giving hope that life’s later years have the potential to be filled with vibrancy and meaning. She would often say, “Age is just a number”. When asked in recent months how she was doing, her reply would be, "I'm still here!” And she is still here, in the hearts and the memories of those who knew her. When missing her, call to mind one of her favorite sayings, “Give yourself a hug”.
June’s adoring family includes her son Andrew and daughter-in-law Adriana in Connecticut, her daughter Jane Anderson and son-in-law Mark Reside in Arkansas, 3 granddaughters – Caty McAfee, Julie Bergman (and fiancée Neil Haney), Jennifer Scott (and husband Rob), 6 great-grandchildren – Killian, Cedric, Sebastian, Meredith, Sean, and Evan, her sister–in-law Billie Dolin, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Deserving of special mention are June's loyal friend, Linda Gottschalk, who spent much time with June in her later years, June’s neighbor Susan Hickey, June’s great-great niece Martha Moskowitz, her great nephew Dan Moskowitz and his wife Jenny, and especially June’s devoted aide Indira Phillips, all of whom assisted June to live an independent life after Stanley passed.
A celebration of June’s life will be held at 11AM on Friday, December 9, 2022. Meet at Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home, 51 West Market Street, Rhinebeck, N.Y. Graveside service will be held in Grasmere Cemetery, 55 Mill Road, Rhinebeck, N.Y., weather permitting. Reception and sharing of tributes will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the June Blum, Ph.D. Award in Geriatric Psychology, given to a trainee or junior faculty member at Weill Cornell Medicine for excellence in scholarly work in the field of geriatric psychology. To contribute, please contact Christophe Larroque, Principal Gifts Officer, at 929-241-4825 or email@example.com.