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A life unusually full of promise cut short

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A chance meeting in an airport led to $500 monthly telephone bills.

A romance blossomed long distance, which eventually led to marriage.Then a child and another pregnancy. And in the midst of it all, there was a full load of college studies.

By early June, June and Bill Cannon figured they'd have a new baby, June would complete her college degree at Weber State University and she would start a career.

"We were just going to live together, raise our children, love each other and look for the day we could run around the house naked without any kids around," said Bill Cannon.

If only it had worked out that way.

Three credits shy of finishing dual bachelor's degrees in psychology and child and family studies and graduating summa cum laude, June died in childbirth in April. The couple's infant son, Tom, survived, although he was five weeks premature.

"I'll never understand it," Bill Cannon said.

At least one of the couple's goals will be realized. Weber State University will award June Cannon's bachelor's degree and a certificate for outstanding academic achievement and excellence in service to her family during a special ceremony June 10.

Immediately following the ceremony, a tree will be planted in June Cannon's honor in the playground area of the Melba S. Lehner Children's School on campus.

Bill Cannon said he feels "honored" by the gesture.

"June possessed a true love for learning. She enjoyed every minute of her time at WSU," he said.

Cannon, who pulled a 4.0 grade point average throughout college, was twice honored as WSU Crystal Crest Woman of the Year.

"June was the only student I've known in my 14 years of teaching who maintained a perfect grade-point average while completing two majors," said Craig Campbell, a WSU child and family studies professor.

"She was focused and intent with an amazing grasp of complex theoretical concepts pertaining to her field of study. It was a pleasure to associate with her."

Bill Cannon said he was initially attracted by his wife's looks.

She caught his eye as he waited in the Phoenix airport to catch a plane. June was reading a book, returning to Utah from a women's conference in Oklahoma, which is incidentally Bill's home state.

"I squeaked my shoes as I walked by her so she would look up. It worked. I got her attention," he said.

As luck would have it, they ended up on the same flight, Bill seated one row behind June. Once the seat belt sign was turned off, Bill got out of his seat and struck up a conversation with her.

"We just carried on a conversation like we'd known each other forever - like we were long-lost friends," he said.

With time, Bill came to admire June for her intellect and her ability to meet people where they are.

"That was what was so special about her. She could sit there and talk to a 3-year-old and turn around and talk to the president of the United States at his level. As intelligent as she was, she would never use it to belittle you or talk over your head. She never did."

Bill's emotion over his wife's death is still raw. He hasn't brought himself to take her voice off the couple's answering machine.

He gets through each day "by the grace of God."

It's also a case of the demands of a family. In addition to Tom, Bill and June had five other children - four from June's previous marriages and the couple's toddler son, William Ryan.

Theirs was a marriage "based on love and understanding, loving each other and the children," he said. They celebrated their second anniversary weeks before June's death.

"It just ticks me off it was cut so short."

A memorial fund has been established at Weber State Credit Union to help pay for the education of June Cannon's children.