By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN “Life goes so fast. Enjoy life every day.”
Those are wise words from someone who knows lifelong Delano resident June Sutton, who celebrated her 96th birthday June 14 (Flag Day).
“She’s just so sweet, and very community-oriented,” commented June’s friend, Jackie Singer. “Anything she can do to help Delano, she will.”
As a member of the Big Woods Garden Club in Delano, June shares her vast gardening expertise with the younger members.
“June has a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime of experiences,” noted Cathy Rose, who has known June for nearly 20 years. “Her heart is true and her mind is sharp. Her spirit is just beautiful, and I find her to be true inspiration.”
With softly crinkled skin and kind eyes that still sparkle, June is the type of person others are happy to have around.
“She’s still so pretty,” Singer said. “She’ll probably outlive all of us.”
June was born in 1905 on her family farm on County Line Road, where she still lives today.
“I love my farm,” June said, explaining that she can watch wild turkeys and deer from her property.
June has 197 acres of land, most of which she rents out. The pastures, however, are reserved for her 22 cows.
“I have to water them and things like that,” June said, adding that she does hire people to make the round bales.
When June was growing up, her parents also had pigs, chickens, ducks, and geese.
“Just like the state fair,” June laughed.
Her father named the place Hillcrest Stock Farm, because they lived on a hill and sold purebred Shorthorn cattle and Duroc hogs.
June remembers the way her family used to bale hay, which required three people: one to feed in the loose hay, one to tie the bundle with wire, and one to lift the bale into the wagon.
“We could do one bale a minute,” she said. “I thought that was really good.”
Before tractors, June’s family had to use horses.
“I like the tractors better,” June said, explaining that the horses were prone to running away with the machinery.
School days also made for interesting memories.
“I remember the first school, before it burned down,” June said.
While the new school was being built, the students had classes at various local churches. There were 11 in her class eight girls and three boys.
June also spent time with her siblings.
“I had four brothers and one sister, but they’re all gone,” June said. “I’m the last one carrying on the family name.”
June’s grandfather, Calvin Stewart, originally came to Delano because of its plentiful trees.
“He was the fastest woodcutter around,” June said.
On the Sutton side of the family, June’s grandfather was from England, and her grandmother was from Scotland.
“They met in Minnesota,” June said.
June doesn’t have any children of her own, and she never married.
“She stayed with her mom and dad on the farm until they passed away,” Singer said.
Throughout the years, June had several full-time positions, including a bookkeeper at the Delano Creamery, telephone operator in Maple Plain, and cook at the Lafayette Country Club.
Through it all, the farm was always her official residence.
Now, June lives in a small cabin on the property, and is working on fixing up the house.
When asked what her secret is for a long, healthy life, June said she’s “just lucky.”
“You never think about it,” she said. “You just take every day in stride.”
Although she’s lived for nearly a century, June still drives a car, attends meetings at the Delano Area Historical Society, and subscribes to five newspapers and four magazines.
“I feel good,” she said. “I don’t have aches and pains, and I don’t take any medicines. I’m very fortunate. A lot of people aren’t even alive.”
Feeding the cows in the winter can be a challenge, though.
“I don’t like cold weather,” June said. “In the winter, you do the work outside as quickly as possible, and then sit in the chair.”
She tries not to sit too much, though, so that she can keep up her strength.
“You need to exercise,” she said.
For June, time goes faster and faster the older she gets.
“I couldn’t wait to be 18,” she said. “Now, weeks go so fast. You just don’t know where all these years went.”
For her birthday this year, June’s friends took her out to eat at the Juke Box in Delano.
“We always try to do something really special for her birthday,” Singer said.
June met many of her friends through the Big Woods Garden Club.
“The land is very important to her, and she does not take lightly the responsibility of being a good earth steward,” Rose noted. “She is as independent as they come, and has an open ear for new ideas.”
“She’s just a delight,” Singer added.