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Julia Myrle Penn

Obituary for Julia Myrle Penn

February 27, 1937 - March 4, 2018
Austin, Texas | Age 81


Julia Myrle Penn was born on February 27, 1937, in Austin, Texas, to Albert (Grip) and Myrle Penn. In 1940 the family, which included Julia's older brother William (Billy), moved to Dallas, Texas. In 1945, after several years on Prescott Street, the family, with a now eight year old Julia, moved back to Austin to stay. In July of that year Julia's sister, Sarah Jane (Janie) Penn, was born, completing the family. Julia attended Wooldridge elementary school, and later, Austin High, graduating in 1954. The linguistically gifted Julia then enrolled in the University of Texas, majoring in Germanic Languages ("German was the most beautiful language I ever heard."), graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1958. She proceeded directly to the doctoral program in German, graduating with a PhD in Linguistics and Germanic Languages in 1966, and becoming fluent in Norwegian and French along the way. Her dissertation, titled Linguistic Relativism Versus Innate Ideas was published in 1972 and earned royalties for many years. At various points along the path to her doctoral degree, she traveled to Norway and Germany on two occasions (Universities of Marburg and Mainz) to further her linguistic skills, and to Nashville, Tennessee, where she earned a Master's degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University (Peabody College).

With doctorate in hand Julia made her way to various universities teaching introductory German ("der, die, das", as she called it). Her final stop in her German years was at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis from 1967-70. Next she headed back to Austin and enrolled in the UT School of Social Work, receiving an MSW degree in 1974. Julia then worked for several years under Marsha Grove with TDMHMR's Infant-Parent program, before launching her private practice as a Clinical Social Worker, a counseling practice she maintained until she was overtaken by the dementia of Alzheimers Disease in about 2011-12.

In February, 1972, when Julia was in Social Work School, she met Gail Reams, who was to become her life-long companion and so much more.

Dear Julia succumbed to one of the ancillary ailments of the devastating disease that is Alzheimer's on Sunday, March 4, 2018, only a few days after her 81st birthday.

Julia was predeceased by her brother Billy, but is survived by Gail Reams, her beloved partner of over 45 years, and her sister Janie Penn, and three nieces, Janie's daughter, Rebecca Winkler and Billy's two daughters, Hilda Penn and Christa Penn Strauss. Julia is also survived by numerous first cousins, and countless dear friends, special among whom was her closest girlfriend and confidant of 40 plus years, Kathryn Miller, and many extended family relatives, as well as colleagues, and former clients, all of whom deeply mourn her loss.

Kudos to Michelle Hojnacki's unbeatable team of caregivers at the Home of Southern Hospitality where Julia spent her final year, and to Hospice Austin for keeping her comfortable as the Grim Reaper closed in.

Memorial service for Julia will be 11:00 am on Monday, March 12, 2018 at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Dr., Austin, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider gifts, in memory of Julia Penn, to the Alzheimer's Association, or other charity of your choice.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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