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MISSOULA — Julia May Thompson, 85, of Missoula, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018.

Julie was born on May 20, 1933, in Joliet (grandparent’s homestead), to Anna and James Hollowell. As a baby of the Great Depression era, Julie’s young life was spent with few monetary privileges but lots of love and family. Like many other children born at this time, Julie would not only survive, but thrive. Her strong will and determination, along with brains and beauty, would cultivate a natural inclination to better her life through family, education and advocacy.  

Julie was a prolific reader and excelled academically; she skipped the sixth grade altogether. She graduated Valedictorian from Drummond High School in 1950. Julie was creative and imaginative. She loved drama and acted in her school plays with starring roles. Julie had movie star looks and a flair for acting with dreams of going away to school and studying drama.

On Oct. 7, 1950, Julie married Jack Thompson of Gold Creek at Saint Michael’s Church in Drummond. Five children would follow between 1951 and 1960, four girls and one boy. Julie always said her greatest accomplishment in life was her family.

In the early years, Jack’s work was ranching and mining. As the children grew, Jack worked as a heavy equipment operator on road construction throughout the state. Julie got a job at the local dry goods store (1963-1968) to help support the family. She later became the local State Liquor Store Operator for five years, an elected position in those days.

Julie grew with her children. She was an outspoken advocate for contemporary issues whether it was supporting her growing teenagers’ local school activism or promoting the Democratic Party. Julie supported Max Baucus in his early campaign days as our Montana senator and was proud to call him a family friend.

In 1970, at age 37, Julie epitomized the Women’s Movement. She supported her teenagers in school advocacy and helped change the high school dress code allowing girls to wear pants to school. Julie lobbied for Title IV, an anti-discrimination law giving equal rights to girls in sports and other activities.  A longtime advocate for clean air in the work place, Julie lobbied against smoking indoors and was instrumental in changing the law to ban smoking from schools.

In 1974, while working and raising five children, Julie earned her bachelor’s degree in education along with a Special Education Endorsement from the University of Montana. She was hired by Missoula County Public Schools in 1974 as one of the first Resource Teachers in Missoula. In 1977 while teaching, Julie earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Montana, Summa Cum Laude, With Highest Honors.  

Julie’s teaching career spanned twenty-nine years at MCPS elementary schools’ Lewis and Clark Elementary and Russell Elementary. She taught until she was seventy years old. Julie taught Resource, second, third and fourth grade, and finished her last ten years as a Title Teacher. She touched the lives of many children along the way, some who have come back years later to thank her.

Julie spent her leisure time gardening, playing piano, reading, and spending time with her family. She had a wonderful sense of humor and could match wits with the best of them on conversation and political debates. Julie loved horses and being in the mountains. Jack and Julie took many memorable trips to California to visit their grown children and grandchildren. Julie saw life as a journey and one of her favorite poems was Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”:  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Survivors include Jack, Julie’s husband and best friend of 68 years (Missoula); four daughters: Barb Millwood (Scotty) of Nashville, Tennessee, Patricia Kayoshi, California (Kai, spouse), Mary Thompson, Missoula and Connie Thompson, Missoula; two granddaughters, Jennette Zarko of Portland, Oregon (Tim Howard, spouse, Patrick and Tori), Leah Schlag of Pleasanton, California (Peter, spouse and McKenzi Nunes (Brandon, spouse), Denver and Libby).

Julie was preceded in death by her son John who passed away on Sept. 11, 2006, in Palm Springs, California. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Anna and James Hollowell. Her brother, Philip Hollowell, passed just two months before Julie this summer.  

Julie requested cremation and no service.

the life of: Julia May Thompson
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