Jim Julia, Sr., has been laid to rest. Friends, colleagues and admirers have been spending today remembering Jim and, with his family, truly mourning the passing of a life taken too soon. In a highly emotional moment, members of the Downtowners Fancy Brigade lined the center aisle of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in South Philadelphia at the end of the funeral Mass. The closed casket bearing Jim was led down the aisle and as it passed, members reached out and touched the coffin in one final goodbye. The words and music at the service had struck every right chord in honoring Jim for his compassion, dedication and leadership. The funeral procession then traveled by vehicle past the Downtowners clubhouse and up around the Mummers Museum, and then back down 2nd Street in one last parade.
Thousands of people tried to say goodbye today. But, if you really need to prove the wonderful life of James J. Julia, Sr., you need to look no farther than his family. Jim Julia, Jr., eloquently addressed us all near the end of the Mass. His sister Meghan stood beside him, as he spoke of his father’s life, and of his father, a kid from Tree Street, losing his mother at an early age. He recalled Jim’s love of Mummery and of tradition, and Jim’s life lessons on family. The words were more evidence of Jim, Sr.’s, love for his family and they for him. This sudden loss is deeply painful for them. But, you can also tell that they are trying to ask themselves, “What would Jim do now?” Most beautifully real of all is Debby, Jim’s Sr.’s, wife. The clear love she has for her husband, the patience and grace with which she greeted each of us and the honesty with which she mourns are as moving and meaningful as anything I have witnessed.
Jim Julia has been laid to rest. I have a feeling part of him is glad we paid some attention to him. He may even be smiling and wondering what took us so long. But, then he’ll take a sip of coffee and tell us to move on. I imagine he’d say that if we do want to honor him, then we should remember him by doing the right thing for tradition, for family and for the people of Tree Street.Thank you to Debby, Meghan and Jim, Jr. and to all in his family for sharing Jim Julia, Sr. And to Jim. Thank you, sir. Goodbye.