After a 10-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, June Daus Preston passed away peacefully on January 13, 2017 with family, friends and her beloved husband Floyd by her side.
June was born June 16, 1923 in Los Angeles to Paul Harold Daus and Daphne Fortney Daus of Los Angeles, California. While in high school and during the first two years of college, she served as a Girl Scout counselor. In September 1941, she entered UCLA, majoring in astronomy. While a sophomore and later as a junior, she published two papers on the orbit of the newly discovered ninth satellite of Jupiter. In April of 1943, while a sophomore at UCLA, she met her future husband, Floyd Preston. She transferred to Berkeley to complete her astronomy degree and upon graduating in June of 1945, she returned to Los Angeles where she married Floyd on July 8, 1945.
They honeymooned in Yosemite where she took up Floyd’s hobby of butterfly collecting which instantly become a joint avocation which they pursued together for the rest of their 71 year marriage.
Within a month of returning from their honeymoon, World War II ended and they moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where Floyd pursued his Master’s in Chemical Engineering. While at Ann Arbor, June worked in the lens design section of Argus Camera, on the soon to be produced C3 Model. They returned to southern California where Floyd worked at Standard Oil of California as a research engineer. Their first child, Carl Bruce Preston, was born in Whittier in 1949. In January 1951, the family moved to State College, Pennsylvania where Floyd started on his doctorate in petroleum and natural gas. Their second child, Harold Wayne Preston, was born there in 1951. The family moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1955 where Floyd had accepted a position as assistant professor of petroleum engineering. That year, their third son, Donald Floyd Preston was born. In 1958, their fourth son, Steven Dean Preston, was born. Shortly after Floyd was appointed associate professor of petroleum engineering, the family moved to Caracas, Venezuela in 1959 where Floyd had accepted a two-year appointment as an adviser to the Venezuelan Oil Ministry. While in Caracas, June served as a cub scout den mother and again in Lawrence. The family’s return to the United States in January of 1961 turned out to be the adventure of their lives as they were taken hostage for two weeks by Portuguese Nationalists when the cruise ship the family was on, the Santa Maria, was hijacked. Fortunately, for the Preston family, the adventure ended safely in Recife, Brazil.
Once back in Lawrence, their lives quickly returned to normal. June became active in Plymouth Women at Plymouth Congregational church as well as the local chapter of the social sorority, Beta Sigma Phi. She joined the Green Thumb Garden Club of which she was still a member, though inactive, at the time of her death. Foreign service called Floyd again, and in 1981, Floyd accepted a Fulbright Senior Lectureship in petroleum engineering at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and June and Floyd moved to Trinidad in 1981. Upon their return to Lawrence in 1982, June was appointed Editor of “NEWS of the Lepidopterists’ Society” where she served for nine years. Her outstanding service and leadership for the Lepidopterists’ Society earned her the John A. Comstock award. The Preston family was honored by a butterfly recently named for them, “Anthocharis julia prestonorum” commonly known as the Western Colorado Orangetip. While Floyd was teaching, their summers were taken up with family travel including searching for butterflies to add to their growing collection. Upon Floyd’s retirement in 1991, they travelled extensively throughout the United States, including Alaska and Canada. They also made short trips to Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil and Spain.
At the honeymoon start, there were 400 specimens in the collection. The collection grew to 4,000 by the time Floyd retired in 1991. The collection was donated to the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 2010. The collection had grown to almost 100,000 specimens. The McGuire Center said, “The Lepidopera collection assembled by June & Floyd Preston is without doubt one of the most significant collections of North America species ever assembled. It not only represents two lifetimes of passionate pursuit of North America butterflies, but it represents the best possible example of a thorough and well organized collection. And its incredible organization is a large part of why it is so important to the scientific community. They should be extraordinarily proud of their incalculable contributions to the science of Lepidopterology.”
In 2007, June was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Their last year of travel was 2008.
June is survived by her husband, Floyd W. Preston of the home; four sons, Bruce Preston (Linda), Fort Collins, CO, Harold Preston (Kathy) Carrolton, TX, Donald Preston (Bobbie Chapman) Kenmore, WA, Steven Preston (Sonia) Port Orchard, WA; 6 grandchildren; and 8 great grandchildren. June was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Lorel Lu.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made in her name to Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Albert Lea, MN) or Racial Justice Fund at Plymouth Congregational Church and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Celebration of Life service for June Preston, 93, will be held 2:00p.m. Friday, February 3, 2017 at Plymouth Congregational Church. Private family inurnment will be held at Pioneer Cemetery in Lawrence.