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Trailblazers’ Life was Spent Giving Back By: Cassiette West-Williams

When today’s children of color check for the weather, they may come across WGN’s (Channel 9) meteorologist Demetrius Ivory’s forecast. Ivory’s ebony skin and professional attire are a given, as he shares knowledge about the upcoming snow storms, but someone else paved the way for him to represent himself on the national newscast.

Dr. June Bacon-Bercey

Standing on the shoulders of an African American woman, Ivory can credit his career in part to Dr. June Bacon-Bercey, who died last summer (July 3, 2019). She was 90 years-old. Her death was announced six months later.

She was the first female and woman of color to become a regular meteorologist in the Buffalo, NY market, according to Little Known Black History Facts. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a Master’s degree from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). She earned a third degree from the University of Southern California in 1979. Dr. Bercey also worked as a teacher and engineer.

Dr. Bercey had been raised by an aunt and an uncle, who had very high standards for her. She watched her aunt sell AVON products and open her own beauty school. Her aunt always taught her to be excellent in whatever she did in life.

She was tapped to give the weather for a local television station after the former television employee had robbed a bank. Dr. Bercey had been hired as a science correspondent for the station, but was given the job full-time to replace the weather forecaster. She became the chief meteorologist for the station in less than 10 years.

Dr. Bercey’s accomplishments are known internationally and she has been noted for continuously giving back to others, who strived to study meteorology. She once said that several people tried to discourage her from working in the science related areas and she ignored them. By setting up scholarships for others, Dr. Bercey was able to see her dreams live on in others. In 1977 she won $64,000 on the game show “The $128,000 Question” and she established a scholarship foundation with this lump sum of money.

Dr. Bercey was able to assist 12 women with completing their college education. Dr. Bercey was the first African American woman to earn a degree in meteorology. She founded an organization, which was the AMS Board on Women and Minorities for those interested in atmospheric sciences, according to AccuWeather reports.

She is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.