June Gaede tried her hand at many professions — short-order cook, private investigator, radio announcer, factory worker — but her joy and triumph was as an educator. Gaede, who died Dec. 17 at age 86 due to complications from pneumonia, had a nearly 60-year career teaching in Kern County, inspiring thousands of students.

According to son Bruce Gaede, it was his mother's love of reading and English literature that fueled her passion.

"She found it easy to teach. She just loved getting through to the kids."

And it wasn't just teens she reached, first at Porterville then North High; in her later work, she taught at Bakersfield College and kept fellow educators up on their skills, including English as a second language, at Cal State Bakersfield.

Her fondness for Shakespeare led her into theater, both at North High and elsewhere such as Bakersfield Community Theatre and St. John's Lutheran Church, where she started the Boar's Head Festival, an annual Yuletide Medieval Christmas production that she led for 17 years.

Earlier this year, the director was able to realize what she called a "45-year plus impossible dream of mine" bringing Macbeth to the Woman's Club of Bakersfield.

"We are all so grateful that she was able to get that final show," said Jan Hefner, who played Lady Macbeth to Ken Burdick's doomed Scottish general turned king.