I run in memory of Julia. This was written by Cheryl Macleay, a good friend and Julia’s sister-in-law, before she passed away.
My sister-in-law, Julia Ornstein MacDonald, was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. Her father was an importer and exporter of textiles in Vienna. They moved to London during WWII to escape Hitler, and then to New York City which became their home. She often told me that “The Sound of Music” reminded her of how her family had to escape with very little during Hitler’s regime.
She and her sister, Melitta, met and subsequently married my two older brothers. They were all taking flying lessons in New York. Frank and Julia obtained their pilot’s licenses in 1948 (the year I was born ) and owned a Cessna which they flew for many years.
Julia and Frank’s relationship was and still is a true love story. She worked hand in hand beside my brother as he established his woodworking business in Columbus, Georgia. They were both passionate about horses and bought a 350 acre farm in Waverly Hall, Georgia and raised brood cattle (Herfords) which helped defray the cost of running what became a Quarter Horse stud farm. They were very active in the Quarter Horse Association and were the proud owners of a Quarter Horse Champion, Two-Eyed Dell.
She is a devoted mother to Brad and grandmother to three beautiful granddaughters. As a child, I spent every summer with them. Although she would say that she has never felt particularly comfortable around children, they are drawn to her. No question every asked went unanswered. If she didn’t know, she would research it and deliver the answer immediately. I remember one summer when I was there I was interested in stones. We went for long walks and collected stones. She bought me a stone polishing machine, we made jewelry, and I proudly displayed my collection all around her beautiful home.
Before she and my brother were married, she was a bridal consultant on Fifth Avenue. Two days before my wedding, I still didn’t know what I wanted as a veil. My brother, who is very artistic, suggested that we copy the pattern in the beading on the bodice of my gown. He did so, and Julia went out and purchased the necessary beads and stayed up until the wee hours sewing the beads onto the headdress of my veil. Very special!
She has always been a conservationist. She is extremely well-read and talked about global warming before it was a popular subject. She not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. She truly believes that the earth is a place for “all creatures great and small”. Their farm has become a sanctuary for stray cats. Her hobbies are music, books, embroidery, gardening, her dogs, cats, horses and family,- not necessarily in that order.
To say that she is the most amazing and fascinating person I have ever met is truly an understatement. She is passionate about every aspect of her life, including her illness. She researched and actually diagnosed her leukemia before the test results were conclusive. She decided not to have Chemo and wanted to live her last days to the fullest doing what she loves the most,- spending time with her family, working in her garden, enjoying her books, music and animals.
She has an inner strength that is unparalleled. She has never complained about her illness or sought special attention, but continued her daily life to the best of her ability. This woman who I am most proud of calling my sister-in-law has and will always be a true inspiration to me.