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Passings : June Walker

Leader of Jewish women's group

August 12, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

June Walker, 74, the former national chairwoman of Hadassah, the women's Zionist organization, died July 29 after a seven-year battle with cancer.

Walker, who lived in Rockaway, N.J., led Hadassah from 2003 to 2007. She also chaired the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group consisting of the heads of 51 American Jewish organizations. She was the second woman to chair the group in its 50-year history.

A respiratory therapist who taught for many years at Passaic Community College in New Jersey and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, she was known for her fierce advocacy of women's rights and healthcare.

She brought Hadassah members to Washington to join national marches for women's rights and chaired the Hadassah College of Technology in Jerusalem, increasing its enrollment from 600 to more than 2,000.

She also was credited with expanding Hadassah's medical work, which included raising $75 million to construct an addition to the hospital that the volunteer group operates in Jerusalem. In recognition of her contributions to healthcare in Israel, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa in June.

Walker was born in the Bronx borough of New York City on June 19, 1934, and was the first woman in her family to attend college. She studied chemistry and respiratory therapy at Adelphi College, where she met her future husband, Barret, and ran the campus chapter of Hillel, an organization of Jewish college students, before becoming active in Hadassah.

Robert Hazard, 59, a songwriter and musician who wrote "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," which became a hit for Cyndi Lauper in 1983, died Tuesday after surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was reportedly undergoing treatment for a rare form of pancreatic cancer.

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news.obits@latimes.com

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