Obituary: June S. Delano / Former Mt. Lebanon official was fierce advocate for early childhood education
June 8, 1924 - May 12, 2014
May 15, 2014 11:30 PM
June S. Delano, 2010
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At a time when early childhood education wasn't as popular as it is today, June S. Delano of Mt. Lebanon was a trailblazer in fostering education for young children.
"Her influence has been wide," said Roberta Schomburg, associate dean and professor in the School of Education at Carlow University.
Ms. Delano helped start two master's degree programs at Carlow, one in early childhood and the other in early childhood supervision. Ms. Schomburg said graduates of those programs now are teaching or supervising others.
She also developed an entry-level program for child care workers that she took to centers so the employees could be well trained in child development.
"She was really committed to improving the field through education about young children, child development and early childhood curriculum," said Ms. Schomburg.
Ms. Delano had a "sense of authority" but still was "very nurturing and supportive," Ms. Schomburg said.
Ms. Delano died at home Monday. She was 89.
Active in community affairs as well as education, on the weekend before she died, Ms. Delano, a former Mt. Lebanon commissioner, requested two lawn signs, both of which she received: one for U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, and the other against artificial turf on playing fields in Mt. Lebanon.
Born in New Haven, Conn., Ms. Delano started her career as a teacher in Connecticut, took time out from her career to raise five children and returned to school in the late 1960s, earning both a master's degree and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh by the early 1970s.
She worked as an administrator in early childhood education for Pittsburgh Public Schools before becoming director of graduate education programs at Carlow.
After retiring from Carlow, she guided doctoral students at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, traveling to Florida twice a year to meet them and communicating throughout the year via FedEx and email. She continued working with the graduate students until she was 85.
Ms. Schomburg said Ms. Delano helped to build the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children. She served on accrediting teams for early childhood education.
Another local pioneer in early childhood education, Natalie Kaplan, president and co-founder of the Carriage House Children's Center in Squirrel Hill and The Children's Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland, said, "She was a leader in the field, and you really looked up to what she had to say."
Ms. Delano's son, Jon of Mt. Lebanon and KDKA-TV's money and politics editor, said, "She loved children. She was passionate about the need to start early with children, not the formal ABC stuff, but simply the acclimating of children to the educational environment and socialization."
She married her husband, Hubert, whom she met at church, in 1946. He died in 1999. One of their sons, Stephen, died in 2010.
Jon Delano said, "I grew up in a family where my father was a conservative steel executive and my mother was a passionate liberal," Mr.Delano said. "We had traditional dinners with all seven of us around the table with a range of topics, from fair trade in steel to civil rights and education and with free-flowing debate. My parents encouraged that, and they wanted all of us to be engaged."
Ms. Delano took a number of roles in community engagement. He said she was one of the co-founders of the Citizens for Community Relations in the 1960s, which was aimed at ending racial discrimination in housing and led to the creation of the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board, which advises the municipality's commission. She also was a co-founder of the Mt. Lebanon League of Women Voters.
In addition to education and civil rights, Mr. Delano said his mother also had a passion for the environment. She opposed installing a soccer field at Bird Park in Mt. Lebanon, instead wanting to preserve the green space.
She won a seat on the Mt. Lebanon commission in 1985 by campaigning on that issue. While she lost when the commission voted on it, she still served two terms.
She also succeeded in getting third graders once a year to visit a park, and she mentored some women seeking public office.
She is survived by two other sons, Chris of Nantucket, Mass., and Michael of Mt. Lebanon; a daughter, Sarah, of Greenfield; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received at William Slater II Funeral Service, 1650 Greentree Road, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today. A funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul Episcopal Church, 1066 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon.
The family suggests contributions to the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, 5604 Solway St., Pittsburgh, PA 15217.
Education writer Eleanor Chute: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955.