Julie Littlejohn, age 96, died after three weeks in hospice care on November 2, 2022, in Brentwood, Tennessee. Born June 8, 1926, in Cadiz, Ohio, she was the oldest of two children born to Edwin and Olive Mills. Her father, Edwin, a civil engineer, was the Harrison County Surveyor before taking a position leading the reclamation effort for Hanna Coal Company and their extensive strip coal mining operation. He started Cadiz Seed Company after he retired from Hanna Coal, developing, refining, and processing seed for an embankment legume called crown vetch seed. Julie loved growing up in the bucolic rural town where everyone knew everyone else and life was good. Her demeanor mirrored the qualities of country life, humble, hardworking, giving, and always interested in others above herself. Cadiz claimed to be “the proudest small town in America” and was home to a number of notable people in the history of the US. She and her brother Jim were raised during the impactful, formative years of the Great Depression to be good stewards of the land, to be frugal with their possessions as well as to be active in their community and church. The virtues of the Cadiz lifestyle left a lasting imprint on Julie. Her whole family grew to embrace the qualities of that special place as well.

Julie knew she was college-bound but was unsure about the best field of study. She was an above-average student, but her math aptitude was very high; she always made A’s in math. Unfortunately, her father discouraged her from pursuing that field as a major. Math was a field for boys during that period, not girls. Thankfully we have achieved a lot in the field of STEM learning for girls since those days!

She recalled of her high school graduating class that four flags were draped over the chairs at her classmates’ graduation. It was wartime, and those four had already been drafted. Julie was accepted to attend her reach school, Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1994. WWII changed a lot of things on college campuses. Since the boys were mostly fighting in the war, she ended up living in their fraternity houses. She pledged to the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, which enlarged her circle of friends, many lasting over 60 years. She graduated from Denison University in June of 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and with the mixed blessing of her parents, caught a train to Chicago with a friend to start a new life in the big city.

Chicago opened many doors for Julie. She and her friend started their new life by taking a shorthand course so they could get a job as a secretary, even though she recalled laughing their way through the class. While living in the downtown YWCA, they met some other young single women who were interested in renting an apartment together. The four of them found a small furnished apartment for $150/month on the near north side of Chicago on Oak Street. It was a great place, furnished even down to the silverware. It had wonderful amenities: half a block from Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, a half block to Oak Street Beach, and very reasonably priced. Her first real job at Swift and Company was a grind, but she managed to find a good job working for the Vice President of Marketing for Marshall Fields and Company, the premier midwestern retailer. She worked hard in that role and grew to develop a lot of respect for him.

While working at Fields and rooming with three other ladies, one of her roommates was dating a man who went to Bradley University. One weekend he brought a friend with him to Chicago. Julie agreed to a blind date with a guy named Howard Littlejohn. She recalled it was a cold day in February 1949. Howard lived in Peoria, was finishing college on the GI bill, and began his career there. Gas was expensive then, so Howard could only afford to drive to Chicago every other week. They ended up dating for a year and a half when he proposed. That was a special occasion. He was working on his pilot’s license at the time, so he chose to fly up and pose the question. They were married on June 30, 1951.

Howard and Julie made a home together in LaGrange, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. After a short time of renting, they splurged on a big home, spending $21,000 several blocks away. Like so many post-war couples, they quickly started a family. Julie raised three children while tending to the homemaking duties. She enjoyed pursuing many hobbies such as gardening, flower arranging, tennis, golf, bridge and needlepoint, and of course, attending her children’s functions. Her garden club activities became so extensive her supplies and handiwork consumed much of the basement. They lived in the same home for 48 years until moving to Franklin, then Brentwood, Tennessee, in September 2001. There they remained, happily married for 68 years until Howard passed away in August of 2019.

As the children left for college, she, Howard, and their many friends enjoyed traveling. Many trips included their golf clubs and tennis racquets, where they almost found a new golf course a day everywhere they visited. They enjoyed that life so well that in 1990 she and Howard bought a home in a golf course community in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The winters were superb there, and they actually became residents of the state, returning to LaGrange and then Franklin/Brentwood for the summers. The friendships they made, the activities, the tennis, and golf during the winters at the Sugar Mill Country Club became a cherished part of the second half of their life. Their lifestyle quickly became the envy of many of their friends, especially their children and grandchildren. The only problem was, they couldn’t visit often enough!

Moving to Franklin/Brentwood was quickly enhanced when mutual friends introduced Julie and Howard to the Brentwood United Methodist Church. They were immediately welcomed into its Sunday school class called The Wesley Forum. Those lasting relationships became their primary group of friends as they joined in many activities surrounding that group. If their children thought the Florida social scene was busy, they didn’t realize the Franklin/Brentwood activity level was almost off the charts. Their son Jim, a 47-year Nashville resident when Howard died, said he probably saw them more in Florida than in the summers in Tennessee! Due largely to the Wesley Forum, their time in middle Tennessee was as enjoyable as in Florida. Julie became involved with the Professional Education Organization (PEO), which provided life-changing education opportunities for local, national, and international women.

To say she led a complete, faithful, full life is an understatement. Julie loved being a grandparent, but she did not live to be a grandparent. She was too involved with her friends, family, and other activities that also brought her joy. Her many qualities made an impact on so many, especially her family. They are described as loving, classy, creative, frugal, energetic, brave, strong, adventurous, joyful, curious, and sincere. Her kind spirit will be missed.

Julie was predeceased by her husband, Howard, in 2019 (95); her brother, Jim, in 2021 (94); and daughter, Linda Sperry (Don), in 2020 (61). She is survived by two of her three children: Jim Littlejohn (Lisa) and Amy Mills (Steve). She had six special grandchildren: Julie Littlejohn, Anne Carr (Eric), J. Lucas, Melanie Mills, Mitchell Mills, and Meredith Mills, and three great-grandchildren: Finley Champion (5), Roman (3), and Auri Carr (2).

Julie regularly recognized the role her key doctors played in her ability to enjoy the last 20+ years of her life. Her family expresses its gratitude to Dr. Julie Lewis, Nephrology at VUMC, and Dr. Dan Edmonson, Internist in Franklin.

Visitation will be held from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, 2022, in the Narthex of the Brentwood United Methodist Church. Memorial services will immediately follow at the church, with Dr. Davis Chappell officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Julie’s name may be made to the Wesley Forum Sunday School Class Fund or BUMC at 309 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN 37027.