Julia Virginia Ferris
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North Andover, MA - Julia Virginia Ferris, beloved friend, mentor, benefactor and philanthropist, passed away peacefully at her home at the Edgewood Retirement Community in North Andover, on the 9th day of November 2019, after a brief illness during which time dozens of Julia's friends, caretakers and Edgewood and Meadows staff, old and new, all of whom Julia considered not only friends, but family, created a constant presence of visits in a beautiful tribute to this special woman, for a farewell hug, a comforting smile, prayer and expressions of gratitude, peace and affection.
Julia, 102 years old, was born in Lowell on August 21, 1917 and resided there until she moved to North Andover in 1997. She was the daughter of the late George Ferris of North Dakota and Rosa Khalil Ferris of Alexandria, Egypt. Ms. Ferris began her career in retail at the age of 17 as a Summer clerk at Bidwell's Department Store in Newark, New Jersey then after graduating from Lowell Commercial College, she quickly became a significant member of the prominent Bon Marche Department Store in Lowell as a Buyer of women's ready wear clothing, creative marketer, hiring and training manager then was engaged as Executive secretary to the co-owner, Carl Wenningman who together with his wife, Helen, embraced Julia not only into their business but into their home and family as well. Julia loved her buying trips abroad and to New York City and immersed herself energetically in the fabric of New York's garment and theater districts. After the sale of Bon Marche to Allied Stores, she continued to work for Jordan Marsh until her retirement in 1975, after 41 dedicated years in retail.
She was vibrant, active, fiercely independent, patriotic, intellectually curious and a woman of strong faith, until the last. Her friends spanned all generations and walks of life. She welcomed every person into her home with a smile and open arms and never failed to say "thank you for your visit" and "don't worry about me" as her visitors and caretakers were leaving. To her caretakers and some Edgewood staff, she was a mother, grandmother, a confidant and pillar of strength and wisdom during her 22 years there. Julia embraced everyone equally, with dignity, warmth, hospitality and a huge dose of affectionate humor whether they be a new acquaintance or old friend and because of these qualities she was loved and respected and subsequently missed by more people than she could have imagined. She touched every person she met.
Julia was an avid bridge player, loved to travel and saw much of the world with many different friends and groups through the years. She embraced holidays, especially Christmas, and entertaining friends and neighbors in her home for tea or out for a lavish lunch treat. Though eclectic in her taste, Chinese restaurants were the more frequented dining destinations.
Julia's retirement years were filled with tremendous philanthropic work as well. She volunteered at the former Sts. Memorial Hospital in Lowell for more than 18 years having received her 5000-hour pin and was an active board member of their Ladies Auxiliary. In addition, she held several roles on resident committees at Edgewood engaged in residential quality of life and charitable works. She supported many a cause in need with style, elegance, dignity, grace and quiet generosity throughout her lifetime including her Lowell and Andover church communities, hospitals, health, children's and veterans' organizations, non-profits that help less fortunate and families in crisis and supported the performing arts. She was a kind, thoughtful and unconditionally generous person to all whom she knew and to those who sought her help through the years.
Her loss to her devoted friends, neighbors and caretakers who adored her, has been profound each and every day. We miss her colorful energy, sparkling smile, even when she was ill, unabashed humor, rich conversation and her ability to listen with interest and without judgment. These were her gifts. The lessons she shared with each of us, by word and deed, of gratitude, compassion, humility, loyalty and tradition, and her enduring wisdom will live on forever in our hearts.
Julia was predeceased by her beloved mother, Rosa Khalil Ferris, to whom she was a devoted daughter; her father, George Ferris and her sister Mildred Ferris Donnelly all of whom she adored and missed dearly for decades but never forgot.
Friends are invited to participate in a memorial service for Julia, on Tuesday December 10, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. at Edgewood Retirement Community at 575 Osgood Street, North Andover, led by the clergy of South Church of Andover. Those wishing to make a memorial gift in Julia's memory are invited, with gratitude, to issue their gifts to either the South Church Building Maintenance Fund, 41 Central Street, Andover, Ma 01810 or St. Jude's Children's Hospital, PO Box 1000, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, please reference on check ID# 11797904.
Published on December 7, 2019

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