Friendship is paramount for June Labish


June Labish

June and Joe Labish moved around a lot, but still managed to build a strong family. They have four children, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

I was the "new kid on the block" in a group of rural women who called themselves Merry Makers when I first met June Labish. Some of the women stared at me. Others ignored me. June smiled and made me feel welcome.

June and her husband Joe had tackled the 24-hour chore of milking 20 cows on the Boone Mill place. Residents of the Amber area could tell you exactly where that was. The Labish's milk was shipped to Darigold for processing. Tired of the dairy business, June and Joe moved to the wheat hills on Bud Reynolds' place. There they stayed for 12 years.

It was time to move again. Turnbull Wildlife Refuge bought the property and the Labishes had to go. Jim Blackshaw was a Cheney resident looking for a buyer. June and Joe were just in time in 1953 to buy the Blackshaw's farm. They have called it their own for many years.

June was a busy wife helping her husband and taking care of their four children. She said, "Each of my kids were born in a different house." Judy was the first child. Her married name is Nokleby. Little sister Joyce married a man named Lemaster. Joyce passed away at the age of 42. Jani Alexander is their youngest daughter. Son Jim Labish lives nearby. As an adult he surprised his parents by serving them breakfast every Saturday morning for many years. June said, "Sometimes I have to do the dishes."

June Labish counts nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren for her to love. The Labish family enjoys getting together. Sometimes there are 20 of them gathered under the trees in June's yard.

Every year, Christmas Eve brings a party with potluck food, games to play and gifts. And, we are certain there are lots of friendly discussions and laughter.

Joe Labish was gifted with a talent for managing a farm and cattle. He received honors as a tree farmer from a conservation organization. He received another honor from the Cheney Jaycees.

Joe was honored as Farmer of the Year. He trained his cattle. They knew his call. You could watch them turn from wherever they were and begin to walk toward the place he wanted them to go.

Joe was born on Halloween. June said, "Every year the kids had a birthday party in our basement. They dressed up in costumes." Joe's costume was always his overalls turned inside out.

Now in 2014 June Labish is still the friendly person I met so long ago. True friendship is forever.

Thank you, June.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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