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"A Stairway to Heaven" - In Memoriam




(Kinkade's Painting of "Stairway to Paradise)






“My Wife June, My Mother Ellen, My Son David, My Stepfather Tom"

If only my tear drops could build a stairway,

And my memories could build a lane,

I’d walk right up to Heaven,

And I’d bring you back with me again!



This beautiful painting (“Stairway to Paradise”) was done by one of June’s favorite artists (Thomas Kinkade) in 1998…the same year that June was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s… and the start of what would be her long 12 year journey into the shadows of this terrible and  always terminal disease…

1998 was a year of contrasting messages…June’s Alzheimer’s disease and Kinkade’s reminder of God’s eternal Heaven…the latter cancels the former…

My Mother Ellen, My Wife June and my Son David all died in the month of October and within 6 Days of each other...every October that rolls around I cannot help but wonder..."Will there be another member of the immediate family that will go home to Heaven and be with Jesus this October?"




My Mother Ellen Died from Alzheimer's on the 21st of October 2007.

My Wife June Died from Alzheimer's on the 23rd  of October 2008.

My Son David Died from Lung Cancer on the 18th of October 2012.


My Stepfather Tom died from Emphysema on July 3rd, 1988.


While my Stepfather Tom was neither a blood relative nor an immediate member of my family Nor an early part of my life, but never-the-less, Tom was an important part of my life and my mother's life...He met my mother in 1943 when I was in my second year of High School and married her when I was a Junior in high school...shortly after my graduation from Rice Lake High School I entered the service for four (4) years just before and during the Korean War Years...

Tom gave my mother Ellen the life she so much deserved...they were married for 43 years, living most of those years on a small lake home near Cameron...Tom was the one who introduced me to June, the love of my life in the spring of 1951.

This poem now reflects my day dreaming of my Wife June, my Mother Ellen and my Son David and my Stepfather Tom in Heaven and my being able to walk up Kinkade’s beautiful stairway to find them!


I am sure Kinkade will not mind my changing his reference to "Paradise"in his painting to my preference for "Heaven" in my adapted poem of June. Yes, I know, June, Ellen and David are now in a far better place than this cruel world…it is selfish of me to want them back with me…but I am the product of a selfish and broken world…I am lonely man and can not help wanting once again, what I had in those days gone by!


Kincade's He is Risen

("He is Risen")


June has left me a remembrance of both Thomas Kinkade and her faith in God. In our bathroom is a night light that is unlike most such lights. This night light is actually a miniature Kinkade painting designed to be a night light. It is a small 4"x5" framed Kinkade painting with a small bulb behind it and designed to cause the picture to glow and to transmit light...the bulb is the small clear Christmas tree type bulb. This small replica of one of the Kinkade paintings is his "He is Risen" with a Bible reference of "Mark 16: 6" the scene is the  hill on which Jesus was crucified, (Golgatha) showing the empty crucifixion cross of Jesus with the sun rising behind has been our night light now for many years and is one of the many reminders of June to be found all about our house at 6025 Gardena Lane...June is the one who found it and brought it into our home! It not only reflects light but also June's faith in God...It was after all, the crucifixion of Jesus that made our "Stairway to Heaven" possible...


The picture below is June and I in the late spring of 2002...June was in her 6th year of Alzheimer's but doing well and we were still very much enjoying life...June was still in early stages of the disease...This is also the time period around 2000 that the above described night light probably became a part of our home...I remember this also as the time when the Rosedale Shopping Center had a Kinkade Gallery that found June and I visiting almost weekly in order to view the many Kinkade paintings and look for additions to the gallery....this was also the year of our 50th wedding anniversary and it was a beautiful event. Our daughter Julie hosted our 50th anniversary at her home...It was my impression that many of the guests did not even know that June had Alzheimer's. I remember June telling Pastor David Glesne (Senior pastor at our church) that we never had any arguments during our entire life together...I remember Pastor Glesne being a little doubtful that such a thing was possible...It was later in years 7 and 8 that the disease started taking control of June and of our lives. It was in year 9 that June  had to be placed in an Alzheimer's facility for further was all downhill from there.


June and Stan 2002        (June and Stan - May 2002)



Thomas Kinkade - "Painter of Light"

Thomas Kinkade has been described as one of the most widely collected and beloved artists of our day. Kinkade was born on 19 January 1958 and died on the 6th of April 2012 at his home  in Monte Sereno, California at the young age of 54. Alcoholism in combination  with an anti-anxiety drug Valium was thought to be a factor in his early death.

Thomas KinkadeHis style of painting has been described as a "Painter of Light." (An overall sense of light...light infused quality). Kinkade's success as a painter can be found in the estimate that 1 in 20 American homes has a copy of one of his paintings. 

Kinkade has described himself as a "Devout Christian" and is a member of the Church of the Nazarene. He is quoted as saying that he "gained his inspiration from his religious beliefs" and "His goal as an artist was to touch people of all faiths." He has also cited his mother as a key influence. Mike McGee, director of the CSUF Grand Central Art Center at California State University, Fullerton has said: "Kinkade earnestly believed in his faith in God and his personal agenda as an artist."

"I view art as an inspirational tool" ,he told the New York Times in 2001. “People who put my paintings on their walls are putting their values on their walls: faith, family, home, a simpler way of living, the beauty of nature, quiet, tranquility, peace, joy, hope."

Artist and Guggenheim Fellow Jeffrey Vailance speaks of Kinkade's devout religious themes and their less then enthusiastic reception by the art world. "This is another area that the contemporary art world has a hard time with, that I find interesting. He expresses what he believes and puts that in his art. That is not the trend in the high-art world at the moment, the idea that you can express things spiritually and be taken seriously ... It is always difficult to present serious religious ideas in an art context. That is why I like Kinkade. It is a difficult thing to do."

Kinkade frequently pays tribute to his wife and four daughters by hiding their names or initials within his is said that those who look closely,  may be able to make out the initial N for Kinkade's childhood sweetheart and wife, Nannette, ..he works the N into all his paintings. He is said to have met his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Nanette, while on his paper route as a young man..

Kinkade is said to be very generous and often uses his art talents to create special commemorative prints that are used in raising many thousands of dollars for charitable causes. He also frequently speaks to civic, school and church groups.  Kinkade's charitable and community spirit were honored in 1990, when he received the Humanitarian of the Year award from his county Chamber of Commerce.


 Reader’s Comments

Nadine Schofield  - Manchester, United Kingdom – (14 May 2014): “That is so very beautiful. So beautiful. Thank you...(17 May 2014): "Very lovely. Hadn't come across his work before. Christian myself - I can almost visualize walking up steps like these to leave this earthly life and enter into the next to join those I love who've gone before. Very comforting picture. So peaceful. Almost inviting and so very comforting. Your wife certainly had a fine eye for art that 'moves'.

John Stevens  - Twin   Falls, Idaho – (14 May 2014): “He does great stuff.

William Charles Wilson  - Rhyl, United Kingdom – (15 May 2014): “Ada & Bill Hi Stan . Wonderful Painting and Memories of June. Cheerio Bill.”

Jane Moore  - Camelford, United Kingdom – (15 May 2014): “Lovely Stan - you are such a romantic!”

Gilda Yen Torino  - Sydney, Australia – (15 May 2014): “Marvelous!”

Bonnie Seip  - Ottsville, Pennsylvania – (15 May 2014): “Beautiful !”

Jan Inman  - Clacton-on-Sea, United   Kingdom – (15 May 2014): “A beautiful thought.”

Bertha Dusenberry  - West Lafayette, Ohio - (15 May 2015): "Beautiful..."

Lyndell Etlicher  - Rice Lake, Wisconsin - (16 May 2014): "Kincaid painting was gorgeous I loved everything it stood for."

Lora Rushing Robinson  - Benton, Louisiana - (16 May 2014): "Thank you for always, i love reading about june...and can just feel her presence when i read your words....enjoyed reading about thomas kinkade also...i never knew about the letter his paintings...i am sure i will search for that now."

Bridie Breen  - Manchester, United Kingdom - (16 May 2014): "Definitely a painter of light. Wonderful Stan."

Charlotte Box Lloyd  - (17 May 2014): "Love Kinkade's paintings. I read one time growing up he was a "latchkey kid' going home to a cold lonely house. That is reason there is light in his paintings so no  one has to go home to a dark, lonely home."

Denise Roberts  - Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom - (18 May 2014):"Beautiful Stan."

Beth Ann Doucette  - Lino Lakes, Minnesota - (18 May 2014): "Just beautiful, Stan!!...Thanks for sharing." 

Legacy Box  - (18 May 2014): "Very touching.  I have shared on my page... thanks for sharing your story."

Connie Sue Lowers - Decatur, Tennessee - (1 June 2015):"I was in such disbelief when Kincade died he too was and always will be my favorite Artist June had very good taste."

Anne Dewar  - Falkirk, United Kingdom (11 January 2016): "This is not selfish it's a person who dearly loved his wife and longs to be with beautiful that is rarely expressed these days..bless u,I have no doubt June is always with you."

Patricia Speck  - Cardiff, United Kingdom - (11 January 2016):"Beautiful painting Stan...and you shared a beautiful life with June., of which I am sure that you are eternally grateful. Keep, Keeping on my friend. One of these days (you) and all believers will meet with their loved ones on that beautiful shore.. What a day of rejoicing that will be!!"

Angela Tesla - Stoke - on-Trent, United Kingdom - (26 March 2016):  "You're not selfish Stanton you found your true love and one day you'll be going up that "stairway to heaven" to be reunited with the beautiful June to a far better place than this. God bless you Stanton..."


June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"