Julie Tallman has traveled the world. Her adventures have taken her to New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Patagonia, and Botswana, where she spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar teaching library science to students preparing to earn certificates to work in the country’s libraries.
But when it came time to retire, it was the lure of the trout streams running through the Smoky Mountains that led her to Asbury Place Maryville. An avid fly fisher, Judith first learned about Asbury Place from one of her fishing guides who was from Maryville. The two met while attending a fly-fishing conference in Athens, Ga., where Julie was living and working as a professor at the University of Georgia.
And as any fly fisher will tell you, it’s not about the fish, it’s about the experience. “I just love it,” says Julie. “The water flowing around my legs, spotting the fish, the smell of the woods…It all brings me so close to nature.”
So, in 2016 Julie settled into her cottage home. And her best friend Martha, a retired teacher and fellow fly fisher, moved into the cottage next door.
“It’s working out beautifully,” says Julie. Along with the proximity of places to fish and enjoy nature’s beauty, these longtime friends are there to support each other through life’s challenges. And the availability of on-campus health services provides additional peace of mind.
Friends supporting friends
In 2020, when Martha’s health began to decline, these decades-long friends decided it was time to combine their households. Julie and Martha moved out of their cottages and are now sharing a townhouse so they can look out for one another. Julie’s recent surgery and subsequent recovery just reinforced the choice to move.
“I don’t want to interrupt my children’s lives to take care of me,” says Julie. Her two daughters and five grandchildren are busy with college and careers. Daughter Kelly lives in Geneva, Switzerland, where she serves as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and daughter Jennifer lives in Houston, Texas where she instructs international students.
A connected, active community
Meanwhile, Julie spends her days pursuing the things she loves. She ties fishing flies, takes photos – a skilled learned from her mother who did it professionally – and enjoys socializing with her friends and neighbors. “Every time you turn around, you’re meeting someone who’s more talented than the last,” says Julie. “Teachers, artists, engineers, business owners, photographers…”
Julie also spearheaded a resident-run project renovating an unused building and turning it into a campus activity center where people could hold meetings, potlucks, and other gatherings. All of it, a labor of love.
“This place draws people who care about others,” says Julie. “The community is quick to gather around and do what they can to support one another in times of need. It feels like family.”