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Julia Stewart: Seven Decade Topangan
June 16, 2005 -
Julia Alice Stewart passed away May 12 in Hamilton, Montana. Memorial services were held on June 4, at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth.
Julia was born to Ernest and Julia Carner in Prescott, in the Arizona territory, on July 28, 1911. Shortly after her birth the family moved to Winkelman, Arizona. Life was challenging, growing up one of seven children in a small mining town. She rose to the occasion early when she learned that diligence and hard work were the answers to success. She excelled in school, while working part-time as a waitress and later as a bookkeeper.
Julia married Oka Stewart in 1930 and they set out traveling throughout the country as Oka performed his acrobatic and high-diving acts in various circuses of the day. When they were expecting their first child, they decided it was time to settle down and build their dream life.
They purchased their first home in Fernwood in 1931 and expanded their family with the births of their three sons and one daughter. Julias life changed again when in 1944 they purchased the Topanga property known as Camp Wildwood. Through long hours of hard work the family transformed that patch of wild woods into a resort that flourished for more than four decades. Camp Wildwood became a gathering place for children and families, and hosted countless events. Many people fondly remember swimming in the pool, picnicking on the grounds, walking the nature trails and attending social events held there. The property also provided a location for several other unrelated small businesses that prospered over the years.
Julia was a dedicated and devoted member of her community. She founded the Topanga School PTA in 1937, and was an honorary life member. She was the Charter President of the Topanga Historical Society, the Topanga Community Improvement Association and the Topanga Association for a Scenic Community. She held several offices in the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, and she and Oka were the first husband and wife team to be named Topanga Citizens of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. She hosted and was active in Topangas Strawberry Festival, and helped organize Topangas first Halloween carnival and Christmas party. As a volunteer for the Girl Scouts for more than 20 years, she hosted the Girl Scout Neighborhood Friendship Luncheon at her home at Camp Wildwood for 17 years. She was a President and Life Member of the Woodland Hills Rock Chippers. She and Oka hosted several Rock Chippers annual picnics at Camp Wildwood. She was also politically active, campaigning for and supporting political candidates. She received commendations for her service from Assemblyman Paul Priolo, State Senator Lou Cusanovich, and County Supervisor Baxter Ward, among others.
In their golden years, Julia and Oka traveled extensively throughout the world. This brought her a great deal of enjoyment. It allowed her to share tales of their exotic experiences with her family and local children. She also enjoyed showing their unusual collection of memorabilia gathered during their travels. After the death of her husband of 64 years, Julia went to Montana for health reasons where she peacefully passed away this spring.
Julia was predeceased by her son Boyd in 1990 and her husband Oka in 1995. Three children survive her: Bert of Arizona, Scott of Montana and June of Oregon, 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. All will miss her.