By Donna Boen ’83 MTSC ’96, Miamian editor
June Goggin has never watched the bittersweet classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Still, she loves the title because she thinks it describes her own life perfectly, although she recalls only sweet, no bitter.
At age 100, June has lots of years to reflect on, which she did when she celebrated her centennial birthday June 25. Many of her dear Oxford and Miami University friends paraded by her cottage at The Knolls of Oxford that afternoon, waving and honking and holding up signs of congratulations as she sat under a canopy in the driveway and waved back.
You may not know June, but if you’ve been on Miami’s Oxford campus, you’ve more than likely walked by the Goggin Ice Center on Oak Street. Yes, she’s that Goggin.
Or rather, part of the couple the ice center honors. Her husband, Lloyd MBA ’63, became Miami’s comptroller in 1947, treasurer in 1956, and vice president for finance and business affairs from 1966-1982. He died in 2017 at the age of 98.
Starting out in Maine
June grew up in the tiny Maine town of Gardiner, which to this day she calls Gahd-na. Known as June Gallant back then, she was the first of three daughters. Her father traveled down from Canada with his brother to find jobs. They found wives, too, marrying sisters. Her father, Edward, bought into a filling station. Her mother, Florence, worked in a shoe factory.
Being from Maine, she was already ice skating while still in diapers. However, when she discovered books, she preferred to stay in and read and leave the outdoor sports to her friends. Always the extravert, she enjoyed school but had to work at it. She also enjoyed her high school’s drama club and performing in plays. She earned good roles, but never the lead.
Except that one time.
“I went to see my boyfriend (that would be Lloyd) in a hockey game. The hockey puck hit me right in the mouth, and then I couldn’t play that role that night. That was very traumatic. That was the only big role I ever had.”
But she forgave her boyfriend, and they kept dating. She and Lloyd met in high school when she was a sophomore and he a junior. He lived in the nearby town of Randolph.
“There was so much I loved about him,” she says, wistfully, sitting on the front porch of her cottage a few days before her birthday. They were married for 74 years.
“Lloyd’s family had 15 children, and my husband was the 15th one. He was very serious, and I was rather intrigued by how serious he was.”
Interviewing under a tree
June stayed home with her parents and worked during World War II while Lloyd entered the service. They were married in the midst of the war in 1943. Time, as it does, flew by with Lloyd entering officer’s candidate school and coming out a captain.
Afterward, his former baseball coach put in a good word for him with Maine’s governor, who helped him get accepted as a student to Bowdoin College. In the meantime, his best friend in the service gave him the tip about a job at Miami.
“His best friend was going corporate America, so he turned the job down, but he told Mr. Roudebush that he knew of a person who would be great for the job.”
Wallace Roudebush managed Miami’s finances for 45 years and was the person who hired Lloyd.
“Mr. Roudebush and he had the interview outside under a tree, and Mr. Roudebush offered him the job,” June says. “When they said something about $4,400 a year, Lloyd was like, ‘Ah, that’s like all the money in the world.”
The Goggins, who were now parents of a 2-year-old toddler, Pam, packed up their possessions and left Maine, the only home they’d know, for a college town 1,024 miles from all that they loved — their family, the ocean, and fresh lobster.
Settling in at Miami
“Miami was like a heaven,” June says. “The university, when I first saw it, I thought, where in the world do these wonderful schools come from? And all the students just loved Miami. Just loved it.”
The Goggins quickly came to love it, too. Those were busy years with Lloyd helping to manage a school that more than tripled in the number of students, faculty, staff, and buildings while adding new campuses in Middletown, Hamilton, and Luxembourg. The Goggin family also grew, with Pat, Penny, and Paul joining Pam. All but Penny are Miami graduates.
Up until Pam was in junior high school, they lived in Miami housing. One of those houses was moved from Spring Street, where Shriver Center is today, down to Oak, now the site of the Rec Center, a hockey pucks throw from the Goggin Ice Center.
Lloyd worked for Presidents Hahne, Millett, Shriver, and Pearson, and they all shared “such a wonderful feeling of camaraderie,” June says. “A lot of the buildings were his idea. When he felt like he owned the place,” June says, laughing, “he was ready to retire.”
But not before Miami named its first ice arena after the Goggins. When that building was torn down, and a much larger ice center went up on the south side of campus, it, too, was named after the Goggins.
“Oh, that was such a surprise to us. I never thought anything like that would be happening to our family. Lloyd was just thrilled beyond words.”
Looking back, no regrets
June still reads, although she opts for large print and good lighting as a concession to her age. She’s also a familiar sight to her neighbors as she walks around the block every day.
Living in Ohio since 1947 has not dulled her Maine accent. Her family still goes to Maine every summer. It’s a part of their soul. But don’t misunderstand. June has no regrets.
“I feel like I’ve had it all. I can’t think of anything where I would go to my death bed wishing I had done this or I had done that. There was nothing in my heart that I desired that I couldn’t do. That’s a wonderful thing to say. It’s been a wonderful life.”
June Gallant Goggin passed away on July 31, 2020, in Oxford. Miamians everywhere offer our condolences to the Goggin family. Lloyd and June were a blessing to us.
Quick Q&A with June Goggin on her 100th birthday
Q: What do you think has been the most important invention during your lifetime?
A: Well, let’s see. There have been a lot of things. I guess the thing we had the most fun with was when we bought a motorhome and traveled all over the country. What a wonderful invention. A house with wheels on it that can take you anyplace you want to go.
Q: What’s the secret to living to 100?
A: Never thought about it until about 95, and somebody said, “Well, maybe you’ll make it to 100,” and I thought, I don’t know, but I’ve had a good, wonderful life. Nothing ever seemed to tear it apart, and we have a great family.
Q: What advice would you give first-year students starting at Miami this fall?
A: I would say, obey the rules first. School has all the rules to be good for you, good for the school, and good for everything. Just don’t do anything to spoil that. (She chokes up.) I often weep when I talk about Miami because it was so good to us. It was really, really a lifesaver.