June Wing
June Wing

June Wing, a political, social and environmental activist who participated in the effort that stopped Interstate 95 from being built through several Southeast Baltimore communities, died of respiratory failure Tuesday at her Guilford home.

She was 98.

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"She was a person who was always issue-oriented. She'd have both Republicans and Democrats over to her home, not just Democrats," said Larry S. Kamanitz, a longtime friend since the 1960s and a political activist who is now a financial consultant. "She was an expert on so many things, like the environment and nuclear testing. We had lots of long talks."

The daughter of John Stockfisch, a salesman, and Elsa Lohr Stockfisch, a concert vocalist, June Stockfisch was born and raised in Chicago, where she graduated in 1933 from Nicholas Senn High School.

She earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from Oberlin College in 1937, and a master's degree in science technology and public policy from George Washington University in the early 1970s.

"She came of age in the Depression, and those hard times contributed to her evolution as a lifelong activist for peace, civil rights and liberties, for professional and experimental ethics," said a son, Daniel C. Wing of Corinth, Vt.

"She was for gender and financial equality, nuclear disarmament, a national system for single-payer health care, and for increased caution in the uses of ionizing radiation," her son said.

In 1940, she married Dr. Wilson M. Wing. In 1949, the couple moved into a home on Poplar Hill in North Baltimore when he joined the faculty of what is now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Wing died in 1971.

Ms. Wing taught at the high school, college and post-graduate levels at what is now Loyola University Maryland, Goucher College, and what is now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on issues of nuclear testing and proliferation, radiation hazards and environmental ethics.

Ms. Wing had been the president of the Baltimore chapter of the League of Women Voters and wrote a history of the organization on its 75th anniversary.

She had been president of the Maryland chapter of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Citizen's Advisory Board to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

A World Federalist, Ms. Wing was a member of the United Nations Association of Maryland and had chaired the Eugene McCarthy for President committee in Maryland.

In 1968, she attended the tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, with two goals in mind, to recruit delegates for Senator McCarthy and to get the platform committee to adopt a peace plank offered by a minority coalition.

"As a nationally known figure in the Democratic Party, she tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade party leadership to help stop the violent police action against protesters," her son said.

"Wednesday night was the worst rioting, and we walked the back alleys until we reached Vice President Hubert Humphrey's hotel," recalled Mr. Kamanitz, who also attended the convention.

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"We took an elevator up to Humphrey's apartment, and then in that great voice of hers she said, 'I'm June Wing from Baltimore and I'm here to see Hubert.' She was the type of person who commanded respect," said Mr. Kamanitz. "She wanted to get him to help stop the rioting, but he was asleep at the time, so we never saw him."

Ms. Wing was a co-founder of the Maryland Democratic Coalition, which acted as a sponsor of six new Democratic Clubs in Maryland congressional districts, which was based on the model of the New Democratic Club of the 2nd District.

In 1970, Ms. Wing ran unsuccessfully for a 5th District seat in the House of Delegates.

"When she saw something that needed doing, she joined with others to get it done, whether by educating and encouraging the electorate, or by direct action," her son said.

In 1969, when Baltimore City announced plans to complete the East-West Expressway which would have created an eight-lane highway through Fells Point, Canton and Highlandtown, and would have joined Interstate 95 near Ponca Street, Ms. Wing threw herself into the effort that resulted in the building of the Fort McHenry Tunnel, which spared the targeted communities.

"I really loved her, and she was very bright and extremely knowledgeable on so many issues," said Mr. Kamanitz, who lives in the city's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, near the 3900 N. Charles St. apartment house where Ms. Wing moved after leaving Poplar Hill.

"I was still visiting her in recent weeks, and it was always pleasant talking to her. She had such a good perspective and a wide background on things," he said.

"Even after she moved to 3900, she continued organizing," her son said.

For years, Ms. Wing enjoyed spending summers at a family-owned cabin on Lake Kezar in Lovell, Maine.

Ms. Wing was a member for more than 50 years of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.

A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Stony Run Friends Meeting House, 5116 N. Charles St.

In addition to her son, Ms. Wing is survived by another son, David L. Wing of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; a daughter, Deborah Korol of Wayne, Maine; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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