Julia Jefferson believed in the need for equality and for education, and worked on both fronts. But her work often began in the simplest places — the home and the church.
Jefferson, who spent more than half a century in Clovis, died Feb. 16 of complications with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. She was 84.
Born March 23, 1926, in Fort Worth, she came to Clovis after her 1951 marriage took her to military installations in Washington state and California. After her divorce, son Nigel Jefferson said, she led a simple life in Clovis, including taking care of her mother, Eva Williams, in her final years.
“She worked for the Clovis Schools, but it wasn’t a career job,” said Nigel. “She worked back in the 70s and 80s in the central office, helping them get ready for the following year. She would do a lot of filing, run papers off, things like that. She worked maybe three or four summers doing that.”
When she wasn’t working in education, she taught her children simple lessons. Respect your elders. Be a good citizen. Don’t go out without your jacket.
“My mom, she was pretty cool and laid back,” Nigel Jefferson said. “She didn’t let things upset her. She was very family-oriented. She looked after her family and kids.”
When she relocated to Clovis, she became a member of St. John’s Baptist Church (she was the last charter member), and later joined First Church of God in Christ.
Bishop W.C. Green of First Church of God in Christ said every Easter, Jefferson decorated the church with lilies, and every Christmas would bring her poinsettia arrangement.
“It’s very important” having members like that, Green said. “That means they’re concerned about the welfare and the beauty of the church. She did what she could.”
Jefferson was also a member of the Tan Terrific social group and the Clovis branch of the NAACP. She was active in those activities and in church, her son said, despite never having the convenience of a car.
“Never learned, never wanted to learn,” he said with a laugh.
Green’s wife, Ange Green, said she knew Jefferson about 40 years ago, long before she ever switched churches. They shared many interests because Green was a teacher and Jefferson had an interest in education.
There wasn’t much acclimation to the new church, Green said.
“She fit right in,” Green said. “She knew how to adjust to any challenge.”
Nigel, who took care of his mother in her final years, lived in Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix before moving back to the area. But he never lost touch with her.
“We always maintained a close relationship,” Nigel Jefferson said. “She was able to do most things, more or less, for herself.”