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Justine Julie Li

September 18th, 1940 - April 2nd, 2024

She was born Julia Ingeborg Larsen on September 18, 1940 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She grew up in a big, loving family, the oldest of nine siblings. With a little help from her family she was able to begin college at the University of Utah. She soon followed a friend to the University of Maryland in 1962. She met a man named Harry Douglass, and they got married in July 1963 and lived in Hyattsville. Her first of two sons, Scott, was born one year later, and her second son, Todd, was born in 1966. They soon got a home in College Park. Motherhood slowed down her college studies but didn’t stop her, as she sometimes even brought her children into class. She eventually finished her studies with a Masters in English. She had an inclination for art and poetry. This did not mix well with her husband’s practical engineering inclinations, nor did their politics mix well, and they were eventually divorced. The divorce was amicable and the kids were with mom in Greenbelt during the school week and dad on the weekend. She had various jobs, like ones at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Maryland Book Exchange, pursued the meaning of life with friends, and pursued various romantic relationships. As the boys got older the roles were reversed, the school week with dad and weekends with mom. She changed her name legally to Justine Julie because she liked the name Justine from a novel she read in her teens, and she could be called Ms. Julie for real. She was able to get closer to jobs that utilized her writing talents, such as answering complaint letters for Amtrak, and she hoped to get closer to that next relationship that might be her next husband. But soon an opportunity came that she couldn’t pass up. President Carter normalized relations with China beyond Nixon’s effort, and soon there was an Embassy in town. Julie soon sent them a letter offering to be an English teacher. Whether it was in reply to a request or not, it was an early resumé that was read closely, and this was an advantage over the overwhelming response to the eventual request. She packed her bags for China, taking Todd with her. She always had a fascination for China thanks to her grandmother’s cousin, Hanna Wang (a fine Norwegian name that works well in China), who was a Christian missionary to China in the 1930’s, and who sent back pictures and trinkets. Julie taught at Tianjin University for three years, returning in 1982. Her mother asked her if she picked up some Chinese while she was there, and she said yes and she married him too! His name is Li Jun, as the Chinese say it, “Joshua” Jun Li as we would say it. Thus she found her next husband and became Justine Julie Li. The couple settled in oldest house in Old Town College Park, working at various jobs and fixing up the house. Having made a Santa Claus figure for a coworker, Julie was encouraged to make a business out of it. She began to explore other forms of art, such as Tiffany style lamp shades. She also began to love keeping company with big dogs, starting with Tuffy, the energetic, bearded collie. In the end her marriage didn’t work out, and she went to California to see Scott who would soon be getting married. While there she found an old romance and tried to rekindle it. That, too, did not work out, but in the process she discovered the charm of the Northern California redwood forests. She settled into a cabin in the woods, hoping to live cheaply and plying her artistic trade, but a flood soon came and destroyed much of her stuff. She decided she could live in the woods of West Virginia cheaply too, and be closer to friends in the DC area. Thus she moved to Pendleton County in 1995. Now you might think a flood would have taught her a lesson about building a house right next to a creek, but while the 100 year flood of 1985 was still fresh in folk’s memories, Julie figured she’s got another 90 years to go. With the help of her friends and family, a nice little cabin was built by the headwaters of the Potomac, on a piece of land she dubbed the What Joy Farm, and so far so good these almost thirty years. There were only a couple reasons to be away from the Farm in all that time. One was to return home to Utah to help her mom in her final years (along with all her siblings). A second was to join in the enthusiasm of supporters of a Vermont political candidate. Julie enjoyed the solitude, but she was a people person too, and so discovered the internet and an online community while suffering the dial-up option. There she met her last romance, a New York actor. Eventually meeting in person, they traveled around the country to political rallies and various acting venues. Julie might never have come back to the farm, but unfortunately, Edwin Owen suffered an illness and died in 2006. She gathered his ashes and took them back to the Farm. She continued with the Howard Dean Blog even as Howard himself began to fade from the limelight. As mobility and other health issues began to creep, she was confined to her cabin and the company of her dog Beau. Her son continued to check on her monthly for years, but one day in January 2024, he found her on the floor, unable to get up. He brought her back to Maryland to keep a close watch, but the time had come when the other side calls with light and this side only dims with pain. She looked forward to discovering what comes next. Julie passed on April 2, 2024 in Hyattsville

We Entrusted Justine Li's Care To

Rapp Funeral & Cremation Services

Rapp Funeral & Cremation Services

Rapp Funeral Services was founded in 1982 in Silver Springs, Maryland, to provide the Washington, D.C., area with a low-cost alternative to traditional funeral homes. This philosophy and approach continue today, ensuring that every family receives the support they need without financial strain. Our commitment to accessibility and convenience is at the heart of everything we do.

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Barbara Whitt

"Puddle River" and Howard Dean

Published June 10th, 2024
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