‘Miss Julia’ honored by PRA

PICKENS — Native and lifelong Pickens resident, Julia Alexander, has been selected as the October I Fan The Flame award winner. Created by the city of Pickens and the Pickens Revitalization Association, the award honors individuals that have supported and contributed to the community in extraordinary ways — those who have demonstrated a passion for helping make Pickens a great place to live, work and play.

“Miss Julia” has lived all her life in Pickens within a three-block radius of her first home on Ann Street, where she was born. After completing Pickens High School, Julia attended Draughon’s Business College in Greenville and then worked for her father, Ernest Alexander, at his feed, seed and grocery store on Main Street in the building next to the current Gravely’s Barber Shop. After Mr. Alexander passed away, Julia sold his business and began working across the street at South Carolina National Bank. Later, she went to work at the Pickens branch office of Duke Power which was on Court Street. After a few years, Duke promoted her with the distinction of being Duke’s first female branch manager. She held that position for 30 years until her retirement in the early 1980’s.

A true expert on the history of the town and many of its oldest families, she has kept a series of notebooks on Pickens County history. College professors and history buffs alike have visited Julia to consult with her on local history and the families who have made Pickens such a special place. There are at least three books that have been written on the Alexander family heritage in the Upstate.

Julia deeply loves her home town and has been a strong advocate of Pickens her entire life. “I have lived a good life here. I love the people and have been very blessed by them”, said Julia. Currently she continues to bless others such as numerous shut-ins that need encouragement and attention. She creates notebooks filled with beautiful photos and inspirational sayings which she gives to them.

She is a charter member of the Pickens County Historical Society and played a key part in saving the Hagood-Mauldin house where she still volunteers twice a month. She has been an active member of the Pickens First Baptist Church all her life.

When asked what change she would like to see in Pickens, Julia replied “My dream would be to bring back Main Street like it used to be — with hot dogs, ice cream and lots of stores, like our feed store, where people shopped and visited with each other.”