She had a dream that became a legacy.
“She always loved the atmosphere. We grew up with weather balloons,” said Dail St. Claire, daughter of June Bacon-Bercey.
June Bacon-Bercey would leave her home in Wichita to earn her Masters Degree at UCLA.
“My mom was very focused on making sure we knew our roots,” said St. Claire.
Her daughter says her heritage was just as important as the future she was paving for meteorologists and women of color.
“From her perspective, she had the skills and the clear path from an intellectual curiosity to pursue a path that had not been paved before,” said St. Claire.
She’d become the first woman and African American to be awarded the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval for Excellence in Television Weather-casting.
Her career included working at NOAA, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the National Weather Service, all at a time when men greatly outweighed women in scientific fields.
“She was obviously one of the only women in her classes. She faced more issues of her gender than her race. When she was called a weather girl, she would smile and say how proud she was to be a meteorologist,” said St. Claire.
Advancing the science of Meteorology was a big goal of June’s, particularly with women. That’s what drew her to a network game show winning $64,000.
“That was her vision of being able to start a scholarship for women in Meteorology,” said St. Claire.
Leaving a legacy that paved the way for so many to follow.
Bacon-Bercy’s passion for sharing her knowledge was evident throughout her career, even helping to develop science books for school children when she was in her 70’s.
June passed away in the summer of 2019 at the age of 85. Her family is now working to restore the scholarship she started, to encourage Meteorological careers for women.