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40th annual Mother’s Day luncheon honors local mothers

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The Mother’s Day Luncheon through the Princeton VFW celebrated its 40th anniversary on Wednesday, May 4.

June Kunkel, founder of the event, led the festivities wherein attendees could enjoy a lunch, live music and entertainment, readings, and prizes.

Some of the prizes this year went to Mary Ann Papenhousen who won the oldest mother award at 92 years old, Anita Gerrard who won the youngest mother award at 49 years old, and Betty McAlpine who won the mother with the most children award at six children.

The event got its start in 1980 after Kunkel, who was president of the VFW auxiliary at the time, decided to do something to celebrate local mothers.

“I lost my mother when I was nine, and I started thinking about a project or doing something to honor the mothers,” Kunkel said. “So, I brought it up to the auxiliary and they thought it was a good idea and started planning the mother’s day luncheon.”

The first luncheon had over 80 people in attendance which encouraged the auxiliary to keep it going.

“It went over so good, the auxiliary decided to make it an annual event and chose me as chairperson. It’s been going ever since,” Kunkel said.

Since the first year of the event, every spring the Princeton VFW held the Mother’s Day luncheon with Kunkel until the 36th and 37th years when she took a break and temporarily passed the baton to someone new.

Kunkel’s break was short-lived and she returned to run the event for years 38 and 39 before the COVID-19 pandemic put the event on pause for two years and delayed the celebration of the event’s 40th anniversary until 2022.

Now, looking into the future, the 41st Mother’s Day Luncheon could be under new leadership or canceled altogether.

“If I feel good, I’ll go for 41, but otherwise I just won’t do it,” Kunkel said.

At over 90 years old, Kunkel is grateful for her health and the ability to have honored mothers for the many years she hosted the luncheon.

“I feel so blessed to still be here,” Kunkel said.

Reach Chloe Smith at


Chloe is an editor for the Union-Times in Princeton and Milaca. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in English.

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