Julie Ann Bish Carmichael will be so missed by her husband of 48 years, Jim, her son Drew, her daughter Lucy, and their families (including granddaughters Nola and Leela), and her sister Bobbi Brand and her family. Julie was a larger-than-life personality, a woman whose creative imagination was only exceeded by her love for fashion, and also, possibly, dogs.
Julie’s young adult life is the stuff of legends among her family—a white leather (first) wedding dress, motorcycle adventures, and the butterfly tattoo on her wrist are capstones to stories whose details often remained mysterious (to her children, at least). Every family meal seems to reveal a new story; for example, just today I learned that she was (allegedly??) arrested while protesting the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C.
Julie met Jim in Cincinnati, where she was his landlady; their connection was instant, and Jim recalls her leading the children of the apartment complex in merry shenanigans. Fortunately, she was not deterred by Jim’s air mattress bed that served as a curtain during the day. The day they got married, Jim realized he’d forgotten to get a ring and rushed out to purchase a $25 special from Sears. On his way back to the house, he saw Julie driving the other direction and had a brief moment of worry that maybe the day wasn’t going to end how he had hoped. Lucky for him, they made it to the courthouse in Cincinnati that day. Jim’s favorite story is how he convinced his dad to come to a party at her family’s house to meet her for the first time. Julie had dashed down to the basement for a last-minute clothing change and was mid-change just as Jim opened the door to the basement and his dad headed down the stairs—that’s one way to make a first impression.
Julie was mom to kids and mom to dogs as well. Her pups included the naughty pair Jody and Jill, followed by Andrew (named when Drew went away to college—he also slept on Drew’s bed and was not to be disrupted when Drew came home on vacation), and then Charlie. Her beloved fur children received individual bowls of cereal each morning, and more than one dog received a swish of blush while she was doing her makeup each day.
Julie was the center of neighborhood action in Drew’s early childhood. You could find her at the heart of a cluster of folks at the Oakwood Pool. The day she gave birth to Lucy was no exception. She was sunbathing with her friends in her signature black bikini; Drew was in the pool and he heard her shout “stay with your friends! I’m going to the hospital!” because her water had broken. Off she went, and a few hours later, Lucy was born.
Family photos over the years reveal a woman who was never afraid to try a new fashion, from shoulder pads and big hair, to sleek hair revealing dramatic cheekbones and a bold geometric patterned dress. She once cut an expired gold AmEx card in half and made earrings, which she wore for more than twenty years. Her sister Bobbi remembers a very happy day spent lost in the Garment District in New York City, where Julie smiled and laughed and spent the day exploring clothes and fabrics at the heart of the fashion world.
In fact, Julie was so committed to fashion that she brought at least three suitcases on a week-long Boundary Waters canoe trip, one specifically dedicated to shoe options, and another just for make-up. Drew remembers that canoe riding dangerously low in the water. And perhaps better left to memory, her outfit for Drew’s senior homecoming football game featured an elaborate hat, enormous scarf, and a peacock green sequined overcoat and dress. She made an impression wherever she went, especially in her black Cadillac with the “Oy Vey!” license plates.
While Julie might not have been the sportiest of sports women, she was always game for time by Lake Michigan. There are stories of doggie hijinx near their cottage in Charlevoix, Michigan, but one of the family’s favorite spots is The Homestead in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Lucy and Drew remember playing on the beach and looking back to see Julie soaking up the sun in her black bikini. Years later, she found this same bikini, pinned it on with safety pins, and could be found lounging like a content cat in a sunbeam on the deck of our rented cabin at Cathead Cove. Julie was a godsend on Nola’s first family trip to Christmas Cove outside of Northport—she laid down next to the baby and talked with her for hours while Nola kicked and played (and her parents got a much-needed break to snorkel for Petoskey stones). And we won’t mention the time she drove the car into a sand dune just outside their rented cabin by Cathead Cove.
Jim says he wanted to marry Julie because she was splashy and a lot of fun. Her whole neighborhood loved her; he says she made friends wherever she went. There was no one like Julie, and she had a way of making the language her own. We can all still hear her saying “I love you more than poison!” and “I love you more than dirt!” Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be made at www.routsong.com.