The same was true when she became an on-air meteorologist for a television news station in the ’70s, and in the many roles she went on to occupy in her decadeslong career.
“My mother paved a new road for women and minorities, and she paved that road with tenacity, integrity, diligence and community service,” St. Claire told CNN. “For me and all other women, African Americans and other minorities, her legacy is one of hope. Her legacy services as inspiration for all and is a powerful example of our limitless capability and strength.”
She had a long list of achievements
Bacon-Bercey, who was born June Esther Griffin in Wichita, Kansas, on October 23, 1928, had a long resume.
She did a stint at the National Meteorological Center. She worked as an engineer for the Sperry Rand Corporation. She studied the effects of nuclear fallout on the atmosphere for the US Atomic Energy Commission. She worked for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That achievement, St. Claire said, is a testament to her life mantra, a quote from 19th century scientist Louis Pasteur: Chance favors the prepared mind.
“There is no question that obstacles were above and below her … and that’s a large part of why she conducted her life and her career with such precision,” said St. Claire, who is the chief operating officer at Park Avenue Finance.
She was a champion for minorities
Bacon-Bercey was always cognizant of her identity and stature as an African American woman, which is why she was such a fierce advocate for women, St. Claire said.
“She would be advocating for women studying STEM, women in meteorology, women on television,” she said. “This is at a time when women over 40 weren’t in [those positions].”
And from 1978-1990, the June Bacon-Bercey Scholarship for Women, administered by the American Geophysical Union, helped 12 women attend college, according to St. Claire. Bacon-Bercey set up the fund using the $64,000 she won on a quiz show called “The $128,000 Question.”
Bacon-Bercey’s final wish was that the scholarship be reinstated, her daughter said.
“She did not want a large service. She wanted anyone who chose to honor her to honor her by donating to her scholarship,” St. Claire said.
St. Claire has been working with the AGU for the past several months to revive the scholarship.