Julie Van Valkenburg
Julie Van Valkenburg of Chattanooga, Tennessee, passed away on December 2, 2022.
She is survived by her husband Rodney, son Jake, sister Barbie, cat Delta, and dog Beau. She was 60 years old.
Julie was born in Raleigh, North Carolina to Barbara and Sidney Johnston on June 26, 1962. The second of two daughters, her sister Barbie Skelton lives in Greeneville, Tn.
Her family moved to Signal Mountain, Tennessee in the summer of 1971. She attended Thrasher, Signal Mountain Junior High School, and Notre Dame High School.
Julie immersed herself in books, writing, music, and, at the insistence of her father, football. A regular daddy’s girl, her father Sid was a Georgia Tech alumnus, which was always a point of pride for her.
She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She wrote and was the editor for the school’s newspaper and was a part of the Brock Scholars Honors Program. Her first jobs out of college were as a reporter and editor for The Chattanooga Times and sports editor at The Memphis Commercial Appeal. As a writer and journalist, she found her calling. It was always about the written word, the search for truth, the merits of a story, and the characters that made up the drama of the city, football field, or the stage.
Julie met her husband Rodney Van Valkenburg at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. She was the actress, he was the director, but she called the shots. They married at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on May 22, 1993.
Julie was so proud of her only son, naming him “Johnston” after her maiden name, “Jake” as a nickname, and “Eric” after Rodney’s late brother who died from HIV/AIDS. From the beginning, Julie and Rodney immersed their child into the heartbeat of the community. His first steps were at the community theatre and his first march was at the Strides of March, where she and Rodney chaired the 2nd annual walk to raise money and awareness for an HIV/AIDS cure. They raised Jake on values of kindness, creativity, empathy, and unconditional love.
Julie was an award-winning actress at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre who was a part of dozens of productions both on and off stage. She continued to explore and improve upon her skill and passion for the written word through various jobs and deep dives into the work of Jane Austen.
This would all culminate with her final job as marketing director at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. Here, she helped lead the theatre into an era of reinvention, consciousness, and what it meant to be a community theatre in this day and age.
A celebration of Julie’s life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 11 a.m. at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church. Visitation is at 10 a.m.
Donations in Julie’s memory may be made to her beloved Chattanooga Theatre Centre.
Arrangements are entrusted to Lane Funeral Home, 601 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, Tn. 37415, www.lanefh.com, 423 877-3524.