June Curry, known to thousands as the “Cookie Lady” of Afton, passed away July 16 in Waynesboro. For more than three decades, Curry, first with her father, Harold, and in later years alone, baked fresh cookies for the thousands of bicyclists and hikers who passed by her home on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.
She first stated offering water and cookies to travelers but eventually renovated her uncle’s home (next door) into a free hostel and provided cyclists a safe place to spend the night, a meal, a shower, something to read and a place to rest and relax.
In 2005 when Curry suffered a debilitating stroke, many of her guests sent letters and cards to the hospital where she was recovering. They provided the needed funds to allow her to return home and have a companion assist her until she was able to care for herself.
“Bikers paid for it all,” she said. Donations also came from individuals who appreciated what she had done in the name of hospitality.
Strangers who came to her door always left as friends. In a 2008 interview with the Gazette, Curry said she took great pride in the cards and letters that came regularly to her home – often containing small gifts and photos. Many of those who first met Curry when they biked through Afton returned to her home years later to introduce spouses and children or kept in touch by mail and telephone.
Curry’s historical knowledge of Afton was legendary, and during her recovery she and her companion created a model of downtown Afton as it was when Curry was growing up. Those who gathered at her graveside service July 20 were told the model will stay, at least for now, in the bikers’ room in Afton.