As a teacher and mentor, June Decker Thorley has enriched the lives of others through her passion for music.
Born in Parowan, Utah, her childhood was filled with music as she learned to play the violin, piano and French horn. She graduated from Parowan High in 1946 and enrolled at Southern Utah University (known then as the Branch Agricultural College) and graduated in 1948. She served as student body vice-president, was her class valedictorian and received one of the first four-year education certificates awarded by this institution.
June's 37-year education career touched the lives of thousands of students. She taught orchestra at elementary schools, Cedar Jr. High and Cedar High School, including private lessons to as many as 30 students each week.
Her love of students and sharing with them the joy of music produced award-winning orchestras and ensembles. Her groups routinely astonished audiences and regularly earned top region and state awards, garnering an unheard of 1++ rating prior to her retirement in 2005.
June is an active member of the Cedar City arts community. She is a founding member of the Orchestra of Southern Utah, has played in countless ensembles for community events and has performed in Cedar City's production of the Messiah for 66 years (and counting!).
Music has always been an important part of June's identity and she has loved sharing it with her students, many of whom graduated from SUU and are now educators. She explains, "Music is like great literature. It enriches and brings feeling that makes life bearable when you don't think you can bear it anymore."
In recognition of her remarkable career, the Alumni Association presented June Thorley with the 2010 Carmen Rose Hepworth Award during Thunderbird Awards.