June Albert's Story

The beds are too small!

When June Nonko married Ernest Albert in Chicago in 1949, they stayed at the famous Edgewater Beach Hotel on the lake, home to many a celebrity sighting in the 1940's and 50's. Arriving at their hotel room that first night, they found two twin beds. They couldn't squeeze into one: Ernie was a gentle giant of a man at 6'5", and so they improvised: Ernie pushed the two beds together! 

Much of June Albert's life involved various forms of performance: she was a lifelong singer and performer from her high school choir to the Village Vocal Chords, a competitive barbershop chorus she was part of later in life. The young alto sang "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" on the Ted Mack radio amateur hour, taking second place to a tap dancer. Never vain, June wore glasses her whole life and didn't get contact lenses until she was in her 50's and she found her glasses kept falling off during the Village Vocal Chords dance routines.

She and Ernie loved Chicago White Sox baseball and travel

June and Ernie, who met when they worked in the same Chicago office building, kept seeing each other on the elevator-and it was love at first sight. They lived on the south side of Chicago, moving to Oak Lawn after their 1st child was born. Two kids later, they moved to Des Plaines where they raised their three kids.

Today June has eight grandkids and eight great- grand kids. June applied the administrative work she did for the Signal Corps during World War II, and her "business degree," to administrative work for a suburban public school district where she worked for 30 years. She and Ernie loved travel and baseball and they often married the two.

They would plan road trips around Chicago White Sox away games, and often went to Sox spring training. They loved to travel together, cruising the Panama Canal, and visiting Ernie's family roots in Budapest. Although, for June, it was a trip to the Middle East that had the most impact on her life.

Activism in Lutheran Church

June became an advocate for the Palestinians through her Lutheran church community. Indeed, she was a passionate advocate for just about anyone suffering injustice. Ernie had had a tough childhood, and June used to marvel at his resilience. "I don't know how he made it through and turned out to be the wonderful, ethical person he was," she'd say. 

So, the two became passionate about helping others. In the 1970s, when faculty and students at a Lutheran Seminary walked out in support of mistreated faculty, June and Ernie followed the newly established church body in support of the faculty. 

Ultimately, they became leaders in the movement and continued in a faith life of tolerance, understanding and justice. Two decades after Ernie died at 66 of heart disease in 1993, June decided to move from Des Plaines back to Chicago and into the lakeside Breakers at Edgewater Beach, a retirement high rise on the north side and very close to Beverly and her family. The Breakers was built on the footprint of the Edgewater Beach Hotel. 

So at the age of 87, 64 years after she and Ernie "began life," as she put it, she came full circle. Back to the very spot where she began her long life with the love of her life; reminding June of her beloved Ernie and their honeymoon night-and all the adventures in between.