Professor Emerita June Marian Gill passed away in her Carmel, California, home on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. She was 78 years old.
Born in Los Angeles on June 8, 1943, she was the daughter of Harold Leslie Gill and Dorothy Margaret Kress. She graduated from Ventura High School, received her B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in French literature from U.C. Berkeley.
She began working at Fresno State in 1971 and taught French, Spanish and cross-cultural courses. Gill retired from Fresno State in 2004 and was granted emerita status for her years of excellence.
“For 33 years, Dr. June Gill made the world of French language and culture come alive for generations of Fresno State students. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such a talented and compassionate colleague, who showed me what it means to look out for the welfare of students and colleagues. Our department was a better place thanks to June,” said Dr. Honora Chapman, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.
Gill traveled extensively due to her interest in varied cultures and her love of nature. She was an excellent photographer of birds, flowers and animals. Her grandmother, Margaret Kenney Kress, was one of the earliest women to take on an academic position as a Spanish Professor at the University of Texas, Austin from 1913 to 1949. Gill promoted her passions and carried on her grandmother’s spirit by supporting nature preservation and equal rights for women nonprofit organizations.
“June Gill was a great French professor and a better mentor. I used to house sit for her while she was away. She would pay me with books,” Chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Dr. Natalie Munoz recalls. “She introduced me to more than just French Literature and made me realize that I could have intellectual conversations outside of the classroom, outside my major and just for fun. She expanded the literary world for me, and I am forever grateful.”
She had many close friends, most of whom she communicated with right up to her last days. During her relationship with Gary Unruh, they traveled together extensively, both close to their new home and abroad. Posts placed on social media reflected the enriching experiences they enjoyed.
June Gill has one surviving half-sister, Carolyn Gill of Redlands, California and her loving partner of over 16 years, Gary L. Unruh. She cherished her role as godparent to Caledonia Gerner, Ella Gerner, and Benjamin Gerner. In addition to immediate family, June Gill loved her chosen role as grandmother to Aiden Unruh-Nichols and Alex Unruh-Nichols and a loving stepmom to Holly Elizabeth Unruh. June and Gary spent 14 years as residents of Santa Barbara and the last two years in their new home in Del Mesa Carmel, a retirement community.