Remember Julia for all that she was

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When I got the call from Charley early Tuesday morning, all I could do was pace frantically back and forth through my house, shrieking, “No, no no!!!”

Our Julia was gone.

She lost her life in a car crash… here one moment, gone the next.

I know that I am heartbroken. I cannot even begin to imagine what her family and friends are going through. My most deeply sincere condolances over your unimaginable loss.

Julia came to the Express about three years ago, starting as the city council and school board reporter, and quickly took on more duties — feature writing, composing the classified ads section and more recently, poised to step into my job this Friday.

All of us at the Express office are crushed. We cared about her, we are all grieving for her and we’ll never forget her.

Many people here in town knew her. She was a true home-girl. She went to Winters schools and graduated as a valedictorian in 2008. She went on to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2013. How a brilliant young woman like this came to work for the Express can only be somewhere between a gift and a miracle.

For those who only knew Julia through her stories in the Express or saw her busily taking notes at meetings, I feel compelled to tell you about her, because Winters lost someone very special on Monday.

Julia was a bit of an enigma. She had a sparkling, dark, wry wit and a photographic memory.  Her fortitude was impressive. If she didn’t agree with you, she didn’t have any hesitation to say so. And believe me, Julia had some strong opinions and wasn’t afraid to defend them, intelligently and earnestly.

Julia was her own person. She made no attempt to “be like everyone else.” She knew her own path and was unafraid to follow it.

She was a quirky girl too She’d wear a heavy coat to the office, even when the rest of us were in tank tops, and bring big bowls of salad for a mid-morning meal, crunching away and writing her stories at the same time. 

She stepped in to take a spot on our Fabulous Fibunacci trivia team this year, and more than pulled her weight with us more experienced folk. With Julia’s knowledge of all sorts of things us “over 50” team members didn’t know, she played a key role in our repeat victory. She told me she’d participated before but never on a winning team, and I handed her the trophy just after the event and took her photo… she was beaming.

Here at the office, we didn’t always see the joyful side of Julia because she was always dilligently getting her work done. But when Julia smiled, it was like a beam of sunshine coming through dark skies. Her smile, her laugh, her offbeat humor… I will cherish these memories of Julia my entire life.

The single most unpleasant part of my job is writing stories like the one on today’s front page, and going to press amid crushing grief, heartache and shock. It seems harsh to do so, but I have a slightly different perspective. The biggest reason for publishing such tragic stories is because here in our community, that person mattered. A lot.

One of the ironies is that I assumed my very last story I’d write for the Express was coverage of Memorial Day services. That seemed quite a befitting end to my career. But Julia’s death as my final story, well, it adds a crushing layer of grief over an already unpleasant and difficult situation.

I additionally assumed that I’d written my last column a couple weeks ago. I’d already said goodbye, in print, and that, as they say, is that.

However, I couldn’t just bow out quietly without acknowledging this immense loss to our community .

My heart goes out to her family. There literally just aren’t words. I have only known a fraction of all this wonderful young woman was.

Witty, brilliant, sweet Julia… I grieve for you and will miss you more than you could possibly know. May the trails you run in heaven be pleasant, beautiful and free of all pain and sadness.

Yes, little Julia… you mattered. Oh, how you mattered. So very much.

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4 comments
  1. An exceptional column from an exceptional writer about an exceptional young woman. Miss you already.

  2. An exceptional column from an exceptional writer about an exceptional young woman. Miss you already.

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