June Markum's restored garden
June Markum Photo:
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Best Pinch-Hitter

Who: June Markum
Where: Wynnewood, Okla.

Moxie Measure: June and Eugene Markum couldn't wait to get started on an ambitious landscaping project: a pond surrounded by fieldstones, which they hoped would transform their boring backyard into a calming oasis. But just after they'd gathered three 16-foot trailerloads of stones, Eugene suffered a heart attack. "The doctors told him he shouldn't lift anything heavier than 50 pounds—anything at all, really," says June. That meant she faced a choice: Give up the dream of the pond or get busy digging dirt and setting the heavy, bulky stones by herself. Undaunted, the 66-year-old June forged ahead, working six days a week to complete the job solo. "It took me three months to dig the hole for the pond and nine months to lay the fieldstones," recalls June, who would pry each unwieldy rock off the ground with a shovel, stand it on its side, then roll it to its final location. "It was hard work, but I enjoyed every day of it."
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