June Were this at age 88, leaving legacy in Kitsap

It would take a large book to compile all the accomplishments and the legacy of June Rose (Edgar) Weren, and even then we would miss much. Suffice to say, Weren, who died of a stroke on Aug. 28 while playing tennis at the age of 88 on her home court in the Brownsville area, was much loved and respected as a person that gave much of herself to many and lived life to the fullest.

She designed and helped build the home of her and Ed, her loving husband of 68 years, lived in since 1971. The home is a “Wurden Wonderland” for bocce ball, pool, miniature golf, basketball, darts, bowling, beach volleyball, shuffleboard , horseshoes, badminton, ping pong and a batting cage to keep visitors busy when they are not gathered around a large barbecue pit.

Weren loved flowers and it is said she would nearly buy out a store of their flowers and would plant as many as 300 at a time. She lovingly nurtured a rose garden into a beautiful landscape.

And were converted their garage into a music room, housing a collection of everything music that inspired her to play and to give lessons on numerous instruments. That led to weekly music played by music lovers and friends. They would arrive ready and sit around the basketball court and play for hours.

Then there were the parties. Up to 100 guests or more would gather for a potluck with their homemade pies and cookies the stars of the show. She would whip up those delicious treats easily and so quickly it would make taste buds spin.

“She would make pies before anybody even knew she had put in the oven 10 to 15 pies and baked cookies for family gatherings and potlucks,” says daughter Julie Jablonski. “She would make scalloped potatoes and salads and we would have anywhere from 40 to 120 over several times a year.”

Why did we do so much for so many?

“She liked to make her corner of the world a better place, to enjoy with family and friends,” says Jablonski.

Were was used to going big. She grew up in Pasco as the youngest of nine children and was into everything, including being named Miss Pasco in 1952, Benton County Rodeo queen and the 1953 Queen of the Inland Empire.

So it was not unusual for her to wade into a crowd and make them feel comfortable.

Weren was a natural athlete before girls were supposed to be competitive athletes (it wasn’t until 1972 that the federal enactment of Title IX forced schools receiving federal money to provide programs for women). One of her four sons, Glen, said his mother was good at anything that had a ball. It was best not to challenge Weren to a game of HORSE unless you were a glutton for punishment. She could play.

She started hitting a tennis ball against a garage door at the age of nine and that felt so good she found ways to actually play tennis and it quickly became her love, her lifelong passion.

Weren became well known around Pasco for her skill at tennis and became an avid player, swarming over tennis courts everywhere en route to becoming one of the better players in the Pacific Northwest. At the age of 80, they won the USTA National championship for their age group at the national tournament in Vancouver, Washington. She also won numerous singles and doubles championships in the Pacific Northwest over the years.

A bin full of June Werden's trophies at her home near Brownsville.

She was so good she bet her children — five of them, Glen, Frank, Rocky, Julie and Frank — while they were growing up that they couldn’t beat her.

“She had a standing bet with us that if we could beat her she would pay us $100,” says Glen. “That was a lot of money back then.”

History tells us nobody won the $100.

It was her incredible tennis ability and force of personality that got her inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

A side note: All the were children are intellectually gifted. They are stories in themselves. Glen, for example, is at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he leads the fusion energy sciences team in the P-24 Plasma Physics. Don’t ask me what that means. It’s way above my intellectual grade.

“They are all unique,” says retired Bremerton doctor Robert Vanderwilde, a longtime friend of the Werdens.

Another good Kitsap County tennis player, Jack Dunn, played often at the Werden court and teamed with June in doubles competition all over the globe, winning titles. Dunn was a world champion at one time and is now 94 (he will be 95 next month) and living in Arizona.

“I knew June for 60 years,” says Dunn. “I met her at the (Bremerton) tennis club. She and her family had moved to Bremerton (from Alderwood Manor) and she joined the club. Dick Danubio and I were playing on the new outdoor court and she came out of the club and introduced herself.

“She would rather play (tennis) with the men. She was an accomplished tennis player. Then later she built her own tennis court and invited anybody and everybody out to play tennis. We gradually got together and probably played 25 tournaments together in mixed doubles. We didn’t quite win them all, but came close.”

Were what a go-getter. She didn’t wait for things to change. She changed them. While living in Alderwood was discouraged by the lack of tennis players, so she started the Snohomish County Community Tennis Association and built her first tennis court at her house (that she also designed).

She became a tennis coach for Central Kitsap and continued to help out the team right up to the end, supplying anything a prospective player might need. She felt a strong desire to get as many involved with the sport as possible, no matter what it took to do so.

Weren So was her own real estate broker, starting the first computer-based realty company (June R. Weren Computer Realty) in which she made property investments, some with retired doctor Bob Yekel, who played trombone with her music group.

“We started playing tennis together at the tennis club in the early ’70s” says Yekel. “I played on her tennis court many times. She was a very, very good tennis player.

“She concentrated on the real estate company and did very, very well. We sold some property together and bought some property together. She was a woman that was always busy. She was just so dynamic and got so much done, more than any woman I ever knew.”

There are many untold stories about Weren, but his one needs to be told. June purchased a baby grand piano. Not to be outdone, Ed, whose love of boats rivaled his wife’s love of music, purchased a boat and called it Ed’s piano.

The end for Weren was unexpected. Hiyam Vanderwilde was playing doubles against Weren when she suddenly didn’t feel well.

“She was in the middle of her third serve when she said, ‘I feel dizzy.’ Immediately I and my partner got her to the ball basket so she could hang on it.I went to get a glass of water and when I came back she was slurring her words.June had told my partner not to call 911, but then she said to call them.”

By the time the EMTs got there, they were unresponsive.

Her lost is heartbreaking to many in the community and elsewhere. She was everything to a lot of people.

“What is there not to be attracted to June?” asks Vanderwilde. “She was the most loving, infant and energetic. You name it she would do anything for anybody.

“She affected so many people in Kitsap County – music-wise, tennis-wise, party-wise. She was so loving and welcoming. I can’t say enough about her. She touched so many lives you can’t even count them.”

The family requests you don’t send flowers. There are already plenty of them. Instead, plant a rose bush on your property in her honor or donate to Olympic College Foundation for music scholarships or to Central Kitsap’s ASB for the school’s tennis program. A celebration of life will be held in 2023.

Terry Mosher writes about local sports personalities for the Kitsap Sun. Contact him at [email protected]

Terry Mosher