Julie Anderson had star quality: A beautiful smile, an incredible will, fashion sense and charm. Though she was confined to a wheelchair because of illness, her spirit soared and her zeal for life inspired many people.
“Even though she was so disabled, she still loved life and really fought to stay alive,” her mother, Ellen Anderson, said. “She was very loving and that’s why everyone liked her so much.”
When Miss Anderson was an infant, she contracted meningitis and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She was blind and could not speak, but her smile and laugh communicated her feelings with the people around her.
Julie Marie Anderson, 23, of Sandy Springs died Thursday, March 1 from complications of cerebral palsy. The body was cremated. A celebration of life will be held 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 24 at 70 Landsdowne Dr. NW in Sandy Springs. Sandy Springs Chapel Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.
Miss Anderson grew up in Sandy Springs and graduated from Centennial High School in 2010.
Her father, Steve Anderson, spoke about her love for music. Their daily routine included Miss Anderson listening to her father play songs like Sailor Hornpipe and St. Anne’s Reel on the mandolin. “I could really get her to laugh and respond to the mandolin,” he said. “She was my biggest fan.”
Miss Anderson was also an inspiration to her community. “We gathered a lot of strength from her,” Mr. Anderson said. “We all start out facing busy traffic, meeting goals at work, and wake up in the morning thinking about our problems, but despite her handicap, she waited for the day."
Mrs. Anderson stayed at home to care for her oldest daughter, with the help of dedicated nurses, and she would also decorate her wheelchair to get her ready for her daily outings.
Elba Brooks, who was Miss Anderson’s nurse for the last two years, elaborated. “I took Julie out to the mall, thrift stores, Wal-Mart and other places," she said. "She loved to be out in the community and all the greeters and clerks knew her and would always speak to her."
“I had to make sure she looked fabulous. As soon as we put on her lip gloss and sunglasses, that was one of her cues that she was going somewhere. Even if you’re sick you can still look good and feel good,” Ms. Brooks said. “It doesn’t matter what circumstances in life you have, smiles are free and love is one of the best medicines you can give someone.”
"Julie was a really sweet, happy girl who loved to meet new people," her sister, Michelle Anderson said. "She found joy in all the little things and was happy to be alive. Whenever I would stress about school, being around her reminded me that I needed to enjoy the little things.”
"She was often in the hospital at Scottish Rite and very sick," Mr. Anderson said. "But year after year she would pull through. She had an incredible will. That’s what attracted so many people.”
"Julie loved hugs and kisses," Mrs. Anderson said. "Every afternoon we would snuggle for a couple of hours and that's one of the things I'll miss most."
In addition to her parents and her sister, Miss Anderson is survived by grandparents Laverne Blackwell of Houston and Mary Anderson of Sandy Springs.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.