A tribute to June White Dillard by Elizabeth Grove
We learned of the passing of June White Dillard simply by chance. It wasn’t until March 16 that many of us heard for the first time our dear friend had died on St. Valentine’s day of this year. This news sent mild shockwaves throughout our community.
I say “mild” only because we had already been missing June’s presence at our committee gatherings, both in person and online. (June was a much-loved long-time member of the AOC’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, one among many relevant and influential positions she held in the judiciary.) Although we hadn’t seen her for a while, you know how it is – even though you know someone’s dealing with a critical illness, when that someone is as special and vivacious as June White Dillard, you simply expect her to beat it!
It was even more unexpected to realize that the Washington Post obituary was for both June and her husband, John Vartoukian, who “peacefully transitioned on January 2, 2021 after a battle with COVID-19.” One can hardly imagine what heartbreak their families are going through, and we offer our most sincere condolences.
As active as June was, you can ready plenty about her online. She earned three degrees at different universities, including her JD cum laude in Law from Howard University School of Law. June ran her own firm for almost 33 years, where she “represented small businesses, churches, nonprofits, and individual clients in family law, civil causes of action,” and yet remained a mainstay in the pro bono world.
We offer a few words in memory of this great lady, a small token of the huge part she played in Maryland’s legal scene:
In the years June served in the Standing Committee on Judicial Pro Bono representing the Southern Maryland counties, I could always count on her optimism and “can do” attitude. Full of ideas on how to engage the bar with pro bono opportunities. Her absence will be keenly felt for a long while.
– Karen Murphy Jensen, Retired Administrative Judge; Circuit Court for Caroline County
June was such a wonderful person and an inspiration to me and I’m sure to countless others. I will definitely miss her.
– Angela M. Eaves, Administrative Judge; Circuit Court for Harford County
Heartbreaking! She was a leader and a trailblazer with an enormous heart. What a loss.
– Cathy Serrette, Associate Judge; Circuit Court for Prince George's County
June was and incredible leader in the community with a big heart. She was a champion of social justice issues and demonstrated her commitment by living it daily and inspiring lawyers and many others to do the same . She has left her mark on the world for which we are all grateful.
– Pamila J. Brown Associate Judge, Howard County District Court
June was a pioneer and civic leader who truly practiced giving of herself to improve the lives of others. She was gracious, kind, and caring and never shied away from standing up for what she believed in. In fact, she was one of the first volunteers I met when I began as director of PBRC. June remained active and engaged in pro bono service and civic works her entire career. She was a pleasure to be with and never ceased to amaze me with her energy, passion and determination. We will really miss her – her humor, her good nature and her vivaciousness. Her life was a blessing.
– Sharon E. Goldsmith, Executive Director, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
Appropriately, and likely at June’s own direction, in lieu of flowers the family requested that donations be made “to your community nonprofit in support of education, the arts, or children's initiatives.” Thank you, June, for making this world a much better place. May your memory, and the continuation of your hard work on behalf of civil rights, carry on.