Julia Tarter’s Twitter feed made at least three things about her life very clear: she loved God, her family, and the taste of Nutella.
A rising junior at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Tarter spent her summer as a counselor in the girls division of WinShape Camps, an experience she loved as a young girl. She was looking forward to continuing her studies in social work and her involvement with Young Life, a Christian-based organization she worked with in Milledgeville.
“Jesus was central in her life and she wanted to use that energy to help others,” said her mother, Tricia Stearns, of Peachtree City. “Especially teenage girls.”
On Aug. 3, Tarter spent the night with her father and stepmother in Atlanta. She was to pick up her mother in Peachtree City the next morning, and the two were supposed to make the drive to Georgia College. While backing out of the parking lot at her father’s on Aug. 4, she realized she left something at his townhouse. She got out of the car before she realized the automobile was still in reverse, her parents said. Julia Grace Tarter died Saturday from complications sustained during the accident. She was 20.
A private burial was held Wednesday at Honey Creek Woodlands, Conyers. A public memorial celebration was held Thursday at North Point Community Church. SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, Stockbridge was in charge of arrangements.
Tarter was a free-spirit, who would “start a dance party in a Target parking lot,” if she felt the urge, said her sister, Mallory Tarter. No would be excluded and everyone would be invited to join, her sister said.
“I wanted to be more like her, and I’m her big sister,” said Tarter, who lives in Atlanta.
Julia Tarter spent much of her free time working with teen girls, but she also had a special place in her heart for SafeHouse Outreach in Atlanta, her mother said.
“She would take them socks, but she’d also wash their feet,” Stearns said. “Then she’d want to dance with them. In doing that, she taught me. I’d say, ‘Julia some of these folks have bigger problems than you realize, and she’d say, ‘I don’t care. We might not be able to solve their problems, but we can give them a blessing.’”
It was Tarter’s ability to encourage and uplift that made her a people-magnet, said Elle Wilten, Tarter’s stepsister who lives in Atlanta.
“No matter the situation or circumstance, you just wanted her there in your corner,” Wilten said.
People who knew Tarter understood her motivation for doing everything was solely “to bring God glory,” said her eldest sister, Meredith Mayo, who lives in Columbus, Miss. “She wanted to be a social worker, but she lived her life like a full-time ministry.”
Though she still had the ups and downs of any 20-year old, Tarter didn’t let her problems slow her down much, said her father, Kurt Tarter of Atlanta.
“Her smile was infectious and she had a high energy level,” he said. “She was love.”
In a reflective moment, Mallory Tarter said of her sister, “It’s not that she had all of her stuff together, but she had the right stuff together.”
In addition to her parents, sisters and stepsister, Tarter is survived by three stepbrothers; A.J. Wilten, Robert Stearns and Michael Stearns, all of Atlanta; stepmother, Susanne Tarter of Atlanta; stepfather, Bern Stearns of Peachtree City; grandmother Bridget Mahoney of Georgetown, Texas; and grandparents Arlene and Tom Tarter of Dallas, Texas.