Julia Jeanne Wilson was born Julia Hertle on May 28, 1940, to Julia Grace Delvac and William Hertle of New York, New York.
“Little Julie” was the light of everyone’s life, adored by all who knew her. Julia’s father, William, died when she was two years old, having suffered his entire adult life from a weakened heart due to a childhood illness. “Big Julie” remarried navy diver Harold Peters when “Little Julie” was four years old. He raised her and loved her as his own. Julie inherited her Father’s artistic and creative sensibility, her Stepfather’s ability to befriend anyone, and her Mother’s sense of humor, generous spirit, unwavering faith, and capacity to love. Julie enjoyed the devotion of her beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins in her childhood and into her adult years. She was the connective tissue and heart of a large and loving family.
She graduated from St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point at the top of her class, and was immediately recruited, at age 17, to teach in the Long Island Parochial Schools. She taught 3rd and 4th graders by day, and attended St. John’s University to work towards obtaining her degree and teaching credentials by night. The family relocated to San Diego during Julie’s college years, where Julie completed her studies in English Literature and Education at the San Diego College for Women (now the University of San Diego).
She married Walter Wilson, a Marine, in 1971. Walter was a widower with four children, and Julie proudly became stepmother to Michael, Christine, Debra, and Linda that year. Daughter Katie was born in 1972, and son John in 1973. She spent her life as a quiet servant to others—most especially to her students, her stepchildren, her children, and as a primary caregiver to her grandparents, parents, and a disabled uncle before their deaths. To her testament, all of Julia’s children, stepchildren, and adult grandchildren have pursued careers in public service—as members of the military, law enforcement agents, lawyers, first responders, community organizers, journalists, performing artists, visual artists, filmmakers, and educators. She was a master storyteller, and the unofficial keeper of the family history. Her warm smile, sense of humor, infectious laugh, and unwavering kindness and generosity endeared her to every person she ever met. She had the amazing ability to make every person feel like the most important person in the room. She was the best fan, friend, cheerleader, and confidante. Simply, to know her was to love her.
She taught for the San Diego City Schools as an elementary school teacher upon completion of her degree. Her teaching career spanned 44 years, until her retirement in 2001. She was known to be a natural in her field, and mentored many teachers throughout her long and accomplished career in education. She was a parishioner at St. Therese Church from the 1960s, where she also taught summer bible school for several years. She enjoyed a special friendship with the sisters of the parish, often taking them to doctor’s appointments and other functions. She had a great devotion to St. Therese, St. Jude, and the Blessed Mother, and watched Daily Mass from television when her health prevented her from attending Mass.
Perhaps the greatest source of joy for Julie and the great love of her life was her beloved grandson, Kevin, who was born in 2014 and adopted by Katie when he was five days old. “Her baby,” as she called him, gave Julie a new purpose and a new reason to live in the wake of a very serious bout with two forms of influenza the winter before his arrival. Theirs was…and is….a true love story. They sang and played and read and laughed together every day in their three years together.
Julie died several days after enjoying Kevin’s third birthday celebration, on her 77th birthday, May 28, 2017. She died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, singing and praying and sharing stories of her goodness as she slipped into eternity.
Julie is survived by her daughter Katie Wilson and grandson Kevin of Del Mar, CA, son John Wilson of San Diego, CA, stepson Michael Wilson and Family of Kinmundy, IL, stepdaughter Christine Strickler and Family of Mahomet, IL, stepdaughter Deb Bame and Family of Carlsbad, CA, and stepdaughter Linda Griffin and Family of Alpine, CA, as well as many beloved cousins, extended family members, and friends.
You may honor Julie’s memory with an act of kindness, a hug, a smile, or an encouraging word extended to a loved one or a stranger, or by considering a donation to a worthy cause in her name. Her favorites were St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Christian Youth Theater of San Diego, Cathedral Catholic High School’s Drama Program, The K.I.N.D Fund, at St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point, NY. A college fund has also been established for grandson Kevin Wilson, as it was her great wish to save and provide for his education.