June Alexander Van Sciver, a Darien native who opened the Bait Shop with her husband in town, died Friday, Jan. 6, surrounded by her family in Pawling, N.Y. She was 88 years old.

Born in her West Avenue home in Darien on June 16, 1923, she was the daughter of Walter Edmond and Helga Nilsson Alexander. She was the youngest of three children. Her mother, father, brother Walter Nilsson and sister Muriel Eleanor all predeceased her.

As a child, Mrs. Van Sciver attended Royal School, and spent many happy days playing at Tilly's Pond, helping in the garden and delivering her mother's pies to the neighbors. Darien was a smaller town back then, and Mrs. Van Sciver grew up loving her small town friends and small town life.

After graduating from Darien High School in 1942, she became a secretary at Pitney Bowes, and World War II began. As a way to contribute, she warmed the hearts of many young enlisted men overseas with her encouraging letters, and kept all of their return letters close to her heart in the hopes that they would return safely, her family said.

After the war, Mrs. Van Sciver met the love of her life, Herbert Benjamin Van Sciver. They were married on Sept. 27, 1947, in a ceremony at St. Luke's Church in Darien, as her mother and father had done forty 40 earlier in 1907. This year the Van Scivers would have been married for 65 years.

June continued to work as a secretary until she had her first child, Nancy, in 1951. Her youngest daughter, Diane was to follow in 1954. By then, June had come to be known as a beautiful, fun loving, hard working wife and mother, her family said, driving her husband to work in the mornings, getting the kids off the school bus, taking the girls to Pear Tree Pt. Beach in the summer months, working part time at Grade Teacher and helping to organize the fabulous rummage sales at St. Luke's Church. "She had many fond memories of the good times there with her friends," her family said. "The summer vacations spent with our friends on the Cape will forever be etched in our memories as simply perfect."

In 1961, the Van Scivers opened the Bait Shop Inc. on the Post Road in Darien. After 10 years and a major fire, the Bait Shop relocated to its present location in Rowayton on the Five Mile River. Mr. and Mrs. Van Sciver were known for their Annual Mako Fishing Tournament parties on the water, where everyone, young and not so young enjoyed the fishing, the fantastic food, the prizes and the fun that was always anticipated, their family said.

Mrs. Van Sciver worked as the Bait Shop's bookkeeper for more than 40 years. Her retirement years were filled with birthday party lunches with her girlfriends and holiday celebrations with her close-knit family in Darien, Sharon, and Pawling.

"Most of all, June was loved by all who knew her," her family said. "She was a bright star who cared for all the people she knew; she never forgot a birthday; was a terrible liar; loved to feed the crows; made an amazing apple pie, and very rarely put herself first. She loved to bet on gray horses at Saratoga, and watch 'America's Most Wanted' and 'Dancing with the Stars.' She loved 'dressing to the nines' and always looking her best. She loved her husband and children unconditionally. She was innocent and naive and wise, and the voice of reason if you asked. She was our Rock of Gibraltar! We will all miss her so."

Mrs. Van Sciver is survived by husband, Bert Van Sciver; her daughters, Diane Van Sciver and Nancie Van Sciver Evoniuk; and son in law, Tom Evoniuk.

Memorial donations may be made to PAWS Pet Animal Welfare Society, Norwalk, CT (pawsct.org).