june foray

Rest in Peace, June Foray

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June Foray passed away yesterday. She was 99. She would have been 100 this September. 99% of people have no idea who she was. Admit it. You didn’t – and there’s absolutely no shame in that.

None. And why would you? She very rarely ever appeared on camera, and her main audience was comprised of children on a show that aired almost 60 years ago.

I did. But that’s hardly something to brag about. Makes me great at trivia competitions, but pays off in very few other ways.

But it’s more likely than not she had a little impact on your life. She was the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel (and Natasha Fatale) on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. And the voice of Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She was also the voice of Nell on The Dudley Do-Right Show. And the voice of Granny on The Bugs Bunny Show. She was in everything from Garfield and Friends, to Weird Science to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

She was Jokey Smurf. Foray even showed up as Grandma Fa in Mulan.

Whether you knew it or not, you’ve been listening to Miss Foray’s voice for as long as you can remember. She was in all the cartoons my dad liked (Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bugs Bunny) – and in ones he really didn’t (the Smurfs, etc.)

My four-year-old son likes Rocky and Bullwinkle.

She had 308 credits over a career that started as the voice of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in The Egg Cracker Suite to this Rocky and Bullwinkle short in 2014.

So Why Am I Writing About June Foray Here?

Because it got me thinking. I think “unsung hero” is probably a bit of an overstatement when it comes to someone doing the voices for cartoon characters, but she certainly made a positive impact. Take a second to think about all the people who’ve made an impact on your life that you’ve never had the chance to meet, or thank? People who did much less glamorous work than June Foray.

When we take our kids to camp, how often do we think about the people who took the initiative to build the camp? The people who raised the money to purchase all the building materials? The workers who poured the concrete for the dining hall? The volunteers who cleared the trails? It’s not that we don’t thank these people, we take their work completely for granted.

Have you ever moved a summer camp tent platform? Those things are extraordinarily heavy. We don’t think that the camp staff showed up long before anyone else did to get camp set up. This usually involves setting up hundreds of tents, carrying heavy bunks, and mattresses on hot, sweaty days. It’s usually done by 16-year-olds on the first working days of their lives.

We don’t think that the program planning started months and in some cases years before that.

The most of us, the camp is just there. To the kids, it just happens.

What about the people who print the recruiting flyers that got the kids to the joining night in the first place? Or the person who designed the flyers or printed them? Or delivered them to the school in the first place and did the Boy Talk? Someone sat down to figure out how many kids would need flyers in the first place. And hardly anyone ever takes the time to thank the registrars in the office who have to type in all of these applications by hand.

Thankless Jobs

There are thousands of moving parts and people that it takes to make these things happen. And most of them go nameless, and just about always, it’s thankless. You’re probably just as likely to have known who June Foray was as to be able to name a lot of the people who help make these great programs happen. There are whole categories of jobs I haven’t even referred to that are absolutely vital to a successful program.

So, as you’re enjoying your summer program, take a few minutes to think about some of the behind-the-scenes people whose work helps us all, and even better…

Thank them.

Photo by voicechasers

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