Friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a “relentlessly positive and optimistic” member of the Elon University community. Assistant professor of education Julie Justice died of a “prolonged illness” on Wednesday, Feb. 26, according to an announcement today from President Connie Book.

The university will host a Gathering of Friends in memory of Justice on Friday Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. in the Numen Lumen Pavilion Sacred Space.

Shannon Lundeen, director of academic-residential partnerships, was close with Justice and organized a GoFundMe page to support her throughout her illness.

“Everyone was fighting over who was Julie’s closest friend because she made everyone feel so important and so loved,” said Shannon Lundeen, director of academic-residential partnerships. “She just had this way of making everybody feel so special, like they were her own personal rock star.”

The two met when Lundeen started at Elon, a year after Justice started in 2014. During her time at Elon, Justice was the community director for the Oaks Neighborhood, where she until 2018. The Office of Residence Life gave Justice the Faculty Engagement Award in 2018. 

Justice taught classes in literacy development, children’s literature, gifted education and teaching practice. In 2016, she participated in a winter term course that brought her to classrooms in Malawi.

Lundeen said she hopes the Elon community will remember Justice as a storyteller. Justice was passionate about literacy and literacy education, and Lundeen said she used her ability to connect people and ideas to spread her message. 

“Stories for her weren’t just about teaching kids or people a less about life, but they were about connecting people,” Lundeen said. “They were about creating meaning. They were about connecting diverse groups of people together.”

Justice also taught at Vanderbilt University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.