If you met Julie Remington, you probably saw her smile and heard her laugh. And if you did, you probably never forgot her. You probably heard about her grandkids and how amazing they are. You probably heard about her two children and how they’d grown up so well. You probably heard her brag about a former student. You probably heard her talk about the beauty of the day or the way the light hit a flower or how pink the sky was at sunset. You probably saw her surrounded by family and friends -- talking, eating, laughing, repeating. You probably heard her recite a favorite poem. She probably offered you a snack. And, the snack was probably an entire meal.
Julie died April 3, 2020, in Great Falls, Mont., with her two children by her side. She faced cancer and the fate it brought her like she faced her beautiful life: with courage, grace, faith and humor.
Julie was born July 13, 1953, in Great Falls to Cecil and Virginia Remington, the baby of their four children, joining Daniel, Ray and Kathy. Cecil died young, at 36, but left a lasting legacy with his four children, one of which was Julie’s love of poetry. In 1959, Virginia remarried a kind, hard-working man named Jim Stevenson, who loved Julie and her siblings like his own.
Julie grew up in a large Lebanese family, with aunts who felt more like second mothers and cousins who were more like siblings. Some of her favorite childhood memories included days helping at her grandparents’ store on 4th street, People’s Grocery, or playing with her many cousins and her siblings at the large, loud gatherings the Paul family was so good at.
She graduated from C.M. Russell High School and then attended the College of Great Falls. She graduated with a degree in elementary education. Julie married in 1975 and moved to the farm she called home for more than two decades near Dutton where she drove tractor, fed harvest crews, gardened and carefully planted trees and flowers on an unforgiving prairie.
Her son Steve was born on a hot day in June of 1977 and her daughter Courtney was born on a cold day in January of 1980. She remembered both days clearly and reminded her children on each birthday of how they came into the world and how the world had changed at that moment. To say she was a devoted mother is a vast understatement. She stayed home with her kids on the farm until her youngest went to first grade and then her career as an educator began, first at St. Joe’s in Great Falls and then in Dutton, where she taught for almost 30 years.
Her students were the luckiest. Not only did she teach them to read and write, she taught them to be confident, to be kind and most importantly, to be themselves. She fought for every child and every student who walked into her classroom knew they were safe, loved and seen. And, what fun they had! From dressing up in a white coat as “Dr. Phonics” to overturning desks, leaving gold coins and making Leprechaun stew on St. Patrick’s Day, Julie knew how to bring joy and wonder to learning.
The truth is, she knew how to bring joy and wonder to everything. Never was that more evident than when she was with her children and later, her grandchildren. Smart, funny Samuel James came first and Julie became Nana. Then came sweet and strong Burke Thomas. Willa Anne arrived next, giving Nana a girl to dress in frilly pink, but also one to pass her feminism on to. Finally, joyful little Elias Leavy joined, bringing so many laughs and completing her pack of grandbabies. The sun rose and set for them. She would hold their faces, just like she did her children’s faces, and whisper, “You are a joy to me” so often that it got a little embarrassing. She retired early so she could spend more time with them, taking them swimming, buying them anything they wanted, camping with them in Glacier, riding bikes and setting up epic “Beach Boys” parties in her backyard in Great Falls with popsicles and plastic pools and thousands of water balloons.
She loved her family with her whole heart. That family included her daughter-in-law Renee and her son-in-law Jacob, her brothers and her sister, her cousins, her nieces and nephews, her aunts and uncles and parents, but also her friends, fellow teachers and even her children’s friends. She hosted big holiday meals, high school pizza parties and game nights. She laughed the most at teacher happy hours and she never missed a birthday party if she could help it.
She always made everyone feel like they belonged.
She is preceded in death by her Mother, Virginia (Paul) (Remington) Stevenson; her father Cecil Remington; her adoptive father Jim Stevenson; her brother Ray Remington; her sister Kathy Remington and her nephew Robert Koszewski.
She is survived by her brother Dan (LeeAnn) Remington of Portland, Ore.; her son Steve (Renee) Lowery of Cut Bank; her daughter Courtney (Jacob) Cowgill of Power; and Sam, Burke, Willa and Eli, her beloved grandchildren; and so many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. (As embarrassing as it is, she also wanted you all to know that one of her children became a dentist and the other one became a professor. But more than that, she wanted you to know that they both are good people and great parents.)
We are planning a big celebration, with pink flowers and tables of food, just as Mom instructed, when we are able to gather again, hopefully this summer.
Condolences can be sent to 420 10th LN NE, Power, MT 59468
Memorials are being accepted at Peace Hospice.
We are not holding public services at this time. But, we will have a big celebration when we can gather again!