We'll miss you, Julie.
On Monday, June 25th, Ten Forward lost one of our own: Julie, our beloved office manager, who passed away unexpectedly.
Today would have been Julie's 73rd birthday. In her honor, I've collected a few of our favorite stories and memories from the last 2.5 years.
She will be greatly missed.
The story of how Julie arrived on our doorstep is the stuff of legend ... and, if you're very lucky, you might one day be blessed with the full tale. Since day one, Julie has shown herself to be a crucial figure in the Ten Forward pantheon, earning titles like "Arranger of Previously Hodge-Podge Files," "Expert Tax Knowledge Distributor" and (for which the dev team, especially, is eternally grateful) "Procurer of the Snacks." We genuinely can't remember how we functioned without her wit, sass and fascinating Madison history lessons. Catch Julie and her husband Rex at a supper club near you.
Ten Forward website bio
"You know, they used to show X-rated films there."
Upon learning that several Ten Forward crew live in downtown Madison, Julie promptly launched into an unsolicited history lesson of how the area has changed in recent decades.
Instead of livestreaming the Kentucky Derby (as it does now), the Majestic Theatre used to screen porn movies, she told us matter-of-factly, nodding sagely at our astonished looks.
The Capitol Square? Deserted as soon as 5pm hit and folks left work.
"You did NOT want to stick around after business hours," she said, adding with a chuckle, "Though we certainly had some adventures when we did!"
This chat about "dirty pictures" took place in the first few weeks after she started at Ten Forward, and it was a solid indicator of things to come. A longtime lecturer at UW-Platteville, Julie couldn't resist a good teaching moment when she saw one.
"It's Ros-AY, not Ros-UH."
Madworks Coworking does a monthly pizza lunch for all members, and before Julie joined the company, various Ten Forwarders reluctantly switched off who would round up the order, haphazardly guessing as to the number of pies necessary and which kinds to get so that no one complained.
Enter Julie, who turned pizza ordering into a veritable art form with her characteristic no-nonsense attitude:
You didn't respond to her RSVP email the day before?
Well, tough luck if there wasn't enough for you to get a slice!
In that case, those sitting next to Julie knew the drill: a sharp nod of her head in your direction, then at the leftover pizza, was all it took to get most coworkers to sheepishly refill their plates (probably from an equal mix of respect and fear).
The best part was early on in her pizza autocracy, however, when the delivery driver had the misfortune of pronouncing "Rosa Road" the way most everyone else did: like the Spanish name, "Rose-uh".
In a voice that carried through the coworking space, Julie stopped him mid-sentence.
"It's not Rose-UH, it's Rose-AY. There was a family here for a long time, pillars of the community, the Rose-AY family, and the street is named after them," she said, pausing for emphasis. "Everyone gets it wrong, but you don't have to be one of them!"
"The orange wig is mine!"
When Ten Forwarder Charielle had a baby shower, I brought along an assortment of costumes, accessories, wigs and random dress-up items for a photo booth.
When I asked Julie if she wanted to be in a group picture with the Ten Forward team, she gave me a giant grin and made a beeline for the neon orange wig, saying she'd been eyeing it since I first set it out.
She also whipped the entire party at a candy bar pun game, but in true Julie fashion, gave away most of her prizes.
"That stuff's all easy!"
From Ten Forward president Brian Samson:
"After our previous Office Manager left to pursue her dream of doing graphic design, my partner and I did the obvious next step of going to the Village Bar to bemoan and brainstorm. We bellied up to the bar next to an older couple and started wondering (apparently loudly) about things like, 'Who is going to run payroll?' and 'Nobody else knows anything about the 401k,' and most of all, 'Does this mean I have to order all the snacks now?'
A couple of beers in, and the woman sitting next me piped up sharply, 'That stuff's all easy! I've done that for years at the University!'
It turns out that woman was Julie Wickland. She had recently retired and was looking for something part-time to keep her busy; she was very obviously an amazing person I wanted on the team.
Due to my past history, it'd been agreed that I wasn't allowed to hire people directly from the bar, so I gave Julie a business card and told her to call me on Monday if she was serious. Sure enough, she called me on Monday and she was hired by Tuesday."
Korbel vs. Korbel
Fun fact #1: In Wisconsin, we make our Old Fashioned cocktails with brandy, not bourbon.
Fun fact #2: We drink more brandy than any other U.S. state. By a lot. (More than 43% of California company Korbel Brandy's annual production is consumed in Wisconsin.)
A loyal and true native Wisconsinite, Julie likewise had a deep affinity for brandy. When she and her husband, Rex, were dining at the Walnut Room at the then-Marshall Field's in Chicago, she asked the server for her standard drink: Korbel on the rocks.
To her consternation, the baffled server returned some time later with an ice-filled flute of Korbel champagne.
(Julie chuckled every time she told this story.)
Part of our family
Julie and her husband Rex didn't have any children of their own, but Julie still took care of plenty of people.
When Rex was injured and on bed rest, you can bet she gave him a strong tongue-lashing if he tried to get out of bed for anything but the bathroom (we know this because she would report to us each morning on his attempts to sneak out of the room).
If the office ran out of someone's favorite snack (like Otis Spunkmeyer blueberry muffins or Milky Way Midnight Dark minis), Julie was on it, sometimes even coming by the individual's desk and letting them know in a concerned voice that she'd already ordered more and they'd arrive soon.
Someone going on a trip? Especially if it were within Wisconsin - but even if it weren't, as Julie has traveled around the U.S. and to numerous countries - she always had a suggestion for a park you should visit, or a restaurant you couldn't miss.
When someone from the coworking space borrowed Julie's scissors without asking, she sent a strongly-worded email warning everyone to not mess with her office supplies (several coworkers were already scared of her, so it had the intended effect).
A few weeks later, I timidly asked to borrow the same scissors, and Julie gave me a warm smile.
"I actually have two pairs, so you can keep those."
Julie always took care of the Ten Forward crew like family; we are better for knowing her.
And now her watch is ended.
Julia Connor Wickland died Monday, June 25, 2018 unexpectedly of natural causes. Julie was born on July 10, 1945 in Madison, the daughter of Robert James Connor Jr. and Mary (Tormey) Connor. She married Rex Wickland on November 17, 1979 in Platteville, Wisconsin.
Julie graduated from Mazomanie High School in 1963. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and graduated in 1967, with majors/minors in education, journalism, and history. She taught high school English in Reedsburg, Wisconsin for two years before joining the faculty at UW-Platteville in 1969, where she taught journalism. While teaching there, she worked on and received her Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She served for years on the Alumni Board at UW-Platteville.
Julie was one of the most intelligent and most relentlessly curious people who has ever lived. Travel was one of her great loves. Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Vietnam & Cambodia with Rex were just the highlights.
Julie was preceded in death by her parents, and by her sister Cathy. She is survived by her husband Rex and brothers Robert J. (Rosemary) Connor III, Neil (Marcia) Connor, Patrick (Joan) Connor, John (Leslie) Connor and sisters Margaret (Joseph) Galle, Mary (Sheri Maverman) Connor, Virginia Porterfield, Elizabeth (Steve) Tucker, Ellen (Marcel Van Camp) Connor, and numerous nieces and nephews.