HURLEY, Wisconsin – Julia Ann (Perlich) Rosa, 98, of Ironwood and Hurley, passed away Saturday night, September 18, 2021, after a long and fabulous life.
Julia, or Julie as she was called, was one of a kind and ahead of her time! She was a feminist (she told her daughters to grow up before they got married), a fashionista (leopard was one of her favorite colors), a longtime Democrat (a Mother Jones subscriber and a C-Span follower. ), a strong Croatian a woman, a singer, a dancer, a wife, a mother, a swimmer, a hiker, an acrobat, a violinist, a spot welder during WWII, and above all, an inspiration to all women of the family. To know Julie was to know that family was everything to her. She leaves behind a family that adores her, and even after she gives us 98 and a half years, we yearn and cry more.
Julie was born to Frank and Ann (Jelic) Perlich on Christmas Day, December 25, 1922. Although she shared this special day with Jesus, she wasted no time in making it her own. Julie was the baby of a family of six. She grew up in the Jesseville neighborhood of Ironwood, Michigan, in a time of innocence, hard work, and Croatian immigrants making their way to America. The depression might have been imminent, but Julie had no idea because the family was completely self-sufficient. They had animals and gardens to produce their own food and spirits, including wine and slivovitz. They made their clothes, including shoes, because her father was a shoemaker. Her mother was a midwife who once gave birth to a calf and a baby on the same day and was sometimes a nurse.
Julie had five siblings (Frank, Myrna, Rose, Helen and Pete) and remained close to them throughout their lives. She also had three siblings who died shortly after birth, as was common at the time. Her brother, Pete, died in World War II at the age of 27. By the time Julie answered the door to receive the telegram, news of her brother’s death became a story she will tell many times over the years to come; about the shock of that moment and the pain of having to read the telegram to his mother and father.
Julie married Charlie, the love of her life, on February 22, 1947, and said Charlie couldn’t lie to her because it was George Washington’s birthday. The love letters they wrote to each other during WWII, which she has preserved to this day, should be published. Charlie often said that these letters got him through the war.
Julie’s children were her pride and joy. She had four daughters and a son, John, who died shortly after her premature birth. When Julie’s mother died of cancer, she headed the Cancer Society chapter in the Ironwood area. When her children attended school in Newport, she was president of the PTA and leader of the Girl Scouts. Her Croatian heritage inspired her to join the Tamburitzas with her Croatian cousin, friend and neighbor, Mary Nantell. The two spoke Croatian to each other, sharing family secrets and stories. This special relationship followed them both to Villa Maria in Hurley where they spent their final years under the loving care of the Villa staff. While at the Villa, Julie said to Mary: “Pack your bags, I rented a truck, we’re getting out of here!”
Julie and Charlie shared a special love and joy for the family that anyone who saw or knew them would admire. They liked to drive the Sunday after church with Julie sitting next to Charlie in the front seat like they were still dating. With the radio on and the windows down, Julie sang as they made their way to Lake Superior or just down a country road with no other goal in mind than being together. It always ended with an ice cream cone from the Dairy Bar in Hurley. Julie always wanted the family to be together. In fact, when Charlie wanted to play golf, Julie insisted that he get a family membership and teach them all to play golf, which he did. Julie was always ready to put on her favorite denim jacket, put on makeup, have a few glasses of wine and go out to dinner. She also liked to dance in the living room with Charlie or crowd 20 of her family around the small kitchen table for a game of poker and exuberant cocktails.
The family was devastated when Charlie died of cancer in 1988 at the age of 64. Julie was still too full of life to be alone, but insisted that she had had the best husband and that she would not settle for another. She reconnects with friends, plays bridge, plays golf, travels and devotes her love to her daughters and grandchildren. His grandchildren adored him and the feeling was mutual. There were a lot of arguments over who would sleep with Grandma when she came to visit her. She has become the subject of many “Who You Admire Most” school papers. While other grandmothers cooked and cleaned, Grandmother Julie showed off in front of her grandchildren doing cartwheels and splits. She hiked, practiced yoga and swam until she was 90. She had a high kick on the back that took your breath away. Shopping was also one of her favorite things to do and everyone commented on her love of animal prints and her collection of colorful berets!
Julie was independent of mind, making choices for herself that few women of that time dared. She forged her own opinions and did not hesitate to share and debate them. She encouraged her daughters and grandchildren to be independent with their own opinion and point of view. She leaves a legacy of strong men and women.
Julie is survived by her four daughters and their husbands, Sharon Ann (Gerry) Hutnik, JoEllyn Faye (Bart) Alleva, Christine Myrna (Ed) Gibbons and Julann (Tom) Gebbie; eleven grandchildren, Peter, LeeAnn, Jennifer, Julie, JoAnna, Jenna, Jessie, Anne, Josie, Rose and Will; eight great-grandchildren, Dane, Mira, Bella, Alaeva, Thos, Violet, Arie and Joséphine; goddaughter, Michèle; and many nephews, nieces and relatives.
As the family mourns her passing, they know they are infinitely blessed to have had her in their lives for as long as they have.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hurley, Wisconsin on Saturday October 9. Family visits will begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by mass at 11 a.m. A procession to Riverside Cemetery will follow, concluding with a celebration of life lunch at the Elk & Hound.
The family chose the McKevitt-Patrick funeral to honor Julia’s life legacy. You can leave condolences or a tribute at mckevittpatrickfuneralhome.com.