June Loesch, a former Radio City Rockette and the co-founder of four dance schools who taught thousands of children across Long Island, died Aug. 22 of cardiac arrest at an assisted living home in West Babylon, her friends said. She was 94.
Loesch was born June Annacherico on July 25, 1922, in Queens. She developed an early love of dancing and after graduating from John Adams High School in Queens, Loesch joined the Gae Foster Roxyettes and later the Rockettes.
She quit performing in 1945 after marrying a military officer, George Loesch, whom she followed for years to military bases around the world.
After a few years, Loesch grew weary of the constant traveling and decided to return stateside. For a while she taught dance at a West Hempstead elementary school, and later, with help from a childhood friend, Claire Muller, the two opened the June Claire School of Dance in West Hempstead in September 1953.
As the school became more popular, three more locations were established where thousands of children learned ballet, tap and jazz, including actor Ralph Macchio, who studied at the North Babylon location.
“She was an excellent dancer and an excellent teacher.” said Bill DeRicco, a former student of Loesch’s and June Claire general manager. “She was the driving force behind those schools.”
Large black-and-white photos of Loesch in the glamorous costumes she wore onstage as a Rockette are hung throughout the four schools, but DeRicco says Loesch will be remembered best as “Miss June,” the prolific dance teacher who, for decades, could be seen wandering throughout her schools in her signature fishnet tights and turtleneck leotard on which she always fastened a French poodle brooch.
As a dancer, DeRicco, 59, of Valley Stream, says Loesch was “blessed with grace” and a “natural sense of rhythm.” As a teacher, she had an “uncanny ability to connect with children.”
“I’d be teaching a tap class of 24 kids and she would just walk into the room and immediately spot the child who was struggling. She’d take them by the hand and bring them out into the hallway and lo and behold, after eight months of me trying to get them to step correctly, she’d have them all straightened out after 15 minutes,” DeRicco said.
Loesch was involved at the schools until about three years ago when she developed dementia, her close friend and business partner, Lynda Gaché said.
“She was a good-hearted person and a driven individual,” said Gaché, 70, of Islip. “And she’s responsible for keeping thousands of kids off the streets and interested in dance.”
Loesch is survived by a niece, Betty Paul, and her husband, Max Paul, both of Merrick.
A wake was held for Loesch Aug. 24 at Fredrick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in East Islip. She was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale wearing her tap shoes.