Julia B. Rittershausen Beers
March 11, 1942 - January 1, 2014
View the Full Online Memorial
|Longtime Whittier resident, teacher, activist, and artist Julia B. Rittershausen Beers died on January 1, 2014 at the age of 71 after a long struggle against breast cancer.
Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Julia grew up around the world, spending parts of her childhood in Greece and France while graduating from Woodstock High School in the Himalaya Mountains of India. She came to Whittier in 1960 to attend Whittier College.
She found her true calling as a kindergarten teacher in the Whittier City School District, where she taught for over 35 years at Longfellow and Lydia Jackson Elementary Schools. She brought passion, color, music, discipline, and fun to the classroom, becoming a beloved teacher to several generations of five and six year olds.
Beyond her career, Julia was an active Whittier community member for 50+ years. She was a president of the Whittier Art Association, a founding member of Chorale Bel Canto, board member of the Whittier Conservancy and Friends of the Whittier Hills, Chairwoman for the John Greenleaf Whittier Statue Committee, and a passionate advocate for the arts, historic and environmental preservation, and early childhood education throughout numerous forums. In addition, Julia presided over 22 weddings as a licensed officiant.
As for creativity, Julia was a prolific fabric artist, specializing in batik and other ethnic dying techniques as well as “wearable” art. She was also an accomplished musician and violinist, performing at Carnegie and Avery Fisher Music Halls in New York City, as well as venues throughout Los Angeles, including the Hollywood Bowl. In recent years, you could catch her fiddling with various traditional music groups, including “The Saltbox” and “Ladyslippers.” In 2010, Whittier’s Cultural Arts Foundation honored her for her contributions to the fine arts.
Above all, Julia was a committed wife and mother. She married sculptor Christoph Rittershausen in 1978 and had a son, Johannes, in 1980. After Christoph passed away in 1998, Julia again found love with James “Jim” B. Kelly Jr. and was wed in 2008. Julia is survived by her two siblings Roland and Marilyn, her husband Jim and their family of three children and six grandchildren, and son Johannes with his wife Pearl.
Julia will be remembered by a wide circle of friends and family for her creativity, zest for life, positive outlook, world travels, and dynamic personality. A public “celebration of life” in her honor will be held at Whittier College’s Memorial Chapel on 13406 Philadelphia St., Whittier, CA, 90602, February 1, 2014 at 3:00 PM.