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September 19, 1953 ~ December 12, 2023 (age 70) 70 Years Old
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Julia Hardy Ackerman died aged 70 on December 12th, 2023, in Portland, succumbing to a long illness. Born on September 19th, 1953, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Julia was the daughter of Edward Ackerman and Adrienne Desjardins. Julia is survived by her sons, August and Clair Popkin; daughter-in-law, Jessica Schreuders and grandson Dean Popkin; sisters, Helen Archer, Tippy Ackerman, and brother Justin Ackerman; nieces Cecilia Ackerman, Anna Ackerman, Anouk Ackerman, and Aurelia Baroni Ackerman; nephews, Damien Petty, Peter Ackerman and Jayden Xu Ackerman; great nephew, Arthur Ackerman Conterato; and great niece Annika Tufts Ackerman.
The third of five siblings, Julia moved to Switzerland in 1960 with her family and beloved nanny, Leonore Khulmann. In her early years in the Swiss Alps, Julia attended local schools before following her sister and brothers to pursue her formal education at Bedales School in England. An avid reader blessed with keen intellect, Julia excelled in academia and, following in her beloved brother Francis’ footsteps, won a place at Clare College, Cambridge University to read English Literature. Under the guidance of her tutor, Dr. Richard Gooder, Julia’s studies, along with her passion for 20th Century poetry, shaped her lifelong love of writing through which she blended Elizabethan literature’s themes of love, time, and the eternalization of beauty, with more modern explorations of inner life, death, re-birth, and the metaphysical. Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge in June 1976 and received her Master of Arts two years later.
In the Autumn of 1976, Julia returned from her many years in Europe to settle in New England. Reunited with her grandmother, Helen Desjardins, of Walpole, who fostered her love of Maine from the earliest age, Julia joined Francis in Boston. In September 1977, Julia married Michael Popkin, and in 1978 they moved to Whitefield, Maine. Their first son, August Hardy, was born in February 1983, followed by his younger brother, Clair Lovejoy, in March 1985. After Julia and Michael parted ways, Julia devoted herself to raising her two sons in Wiscasset and Portland, while pursuing a master’s degree in social work from the University of New England. Once licensed, Julia practiced psychotherapy in the mid-coast region, later establishing a private practice in Portland and Whitefield. As a psychotherapist Julia devoted special attention to treatment of trauma and was loved by many clients for her highly responsive, deeply empathic sensitivity and unique insights.
Influenced by her father’s Swedish roots and his love of Asian art, Julia had a passion for Scandinavian literature and culture, and Japanese prints. Another devotion was to cats, and in Julia’s house cats ruled, keeping felidae watch over her. While still writing poetry, Julia co-authored The Ice Bear, a medieval Scandinavian epic with Francis. Sadly, Julia was still preparing the manuscript for publication when she passed on. Always quick of mind and wit, Julia loved Scrabble and Bananagram which she played with singular drive, old New England whaling songs, classical and alternative music, Tai Chi, and long contemplative walks through deep woods or along empty beaches from which she drew inspiration for her art and writing. Julia was a lifelong advocate for animal rights and wildlife conservation, especially snow leopards, and in her brave struggle to overcome ovarian cancer, became interested in helping cancer survivors. A loyal and devoted friend to many, Julia’s understanding and compassion were rare gifts for those whose confidence she shared.
A memorial service honoring Julia will be held at Wolf’s Neck Farm, 184 Burnett Rd, Freeport, Maine 04032, on January 13th, 2024, starting at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Julie Fund for women's cancers, or the Snow Leopard Trust will be appreciated.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543. Condolences, and messages for her family, may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com.