real-life hero

Carnegie Medal awardee June E. Roberts, center, is flanked by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren over the Christmas 2016 holiday. Son John Roberts has his arm around her, and daughter Maria Roberto is the second adult from left. As a surprise, Roberts was given updated material from the Hero Fund as well as a lapel pin and a parchment certificate confirming her award of the Carnegie Medal, which she is holding. From son John: “We read the article from the Boston Herald from 1969 and watched a PBS documentary that aired that year to honor our mother and remind her we have not forgotten her heroic act.”

By John Roberts
Danvers, Mass.

Our mother, June E. Roberts, raised two children while working for more than 30 years for New England Telephone/NYNEX.  Somehow she managed and was able to send us both to private schools for 12 years and college.  She was able to purchase—and still lives in—the house where she raised us and, even though working full-time, was a constant presence and role model for our upbringing.

Even as before her unselfish heroic act in 1967, she continues a life of sacrifice in giving of her time and support to others.  She has always offered to take others who cannot drive or have a car on errands or just place a phone call when she thinks someone may need it.  She has befriended many during her life, including those who may have been dismissed by others, making them feel as if they will always have a friend.  She continues to be the person who saved that boy every day of her life.

These days, many years after retiring, she spends a lot of her time enjoying her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She is the biggest fan of her youngest grandson, who excels in high school athletics, and never misses any of his basketball or baseball games.  As she is also a fan of all the Boston professional sports teams, we took her to her first Red Sox game in 40 years for her 80th birthday.  She even went into downtown Boston to one of the Patriots Super Bowl parades—on her own, without telling anyone!—showing that she is very independent at her age.  She still drives her own car and takes walks with her beloved dog Remy on the very same beach where she saved the boy from drowning almost 50 years ago.

When we honored her at Christmas, we reminded her that she is a real-life hero to the boy she saved in 1967, and we also reminded her that she has always been our hero as well.

June E. Roberts was six months pregnant with son John on Oct. 31, 1967, when she was at a beach along Chelsea Point Channel in Boston, Mass., and saw a 12-year-old boy struggling in water about 40 feet deep.  She waded and swam to the boy, who was unconscious by then, and towed him back to wadable water but was too fatigued to continue with him.  A man waded out and took the boy to safety, Roberts following.  For her actions, she was awarded the Carnegie Medal a year later.


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