Julia Ann Nelson was born on September 8, 1968, in Staten Island, New York to the late Reverend William J. Nelson, Sr. and Hattie Mae Harkless Sands Nelson. She transitioned from this life on October 8, 2021, at Prisma Health Richland Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina at the age of 53.
Julia began her formal education at PS 16 in New York. After moving to Gaston, South Carolina with her family at the age of 6, she continued her education in the public schools of Lexington County. She attended Pine Ridge Middle School and Airport High School. She aspired to be a model and enrolled at Barbizon Modeling and Acting School. There she developed her high step and smile, which she flashed at fashion shows and beauty pageants.
Julia discovered her love for children, especially toddlers, at a young age. She would often babysit the neighborhood children at no charge simply because she loved them. When she became a mother, she lavished that love on her own children. During family gatherings, Julia could often be heard sharing stories of what the children had done. One of her favorite stories was of how her daughter, “Dee”, who could not dance suddenly got a burst of energy for about 30 seconds while listening to some music and attempted her best to dance. She also enjoyed telling the story of Lovell taking a nap and Tyrone putting him in a wagon to go bury him with Tariqua’s help. She would tell others how much Nicole loved her Uncle Tyrone so much that she would call him “Mama”. Julia enjoyed telling others how much her children loved, adored, and spoiled her youngest daughter Shaniyah. She would share these stories and more with anyone who would listen.
Julia loved and cherished her family. She focused on the well-being of her family and was a caretaker for her mother for many years. Julia also cherished her faith and was a member of Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Julia began to develop health problems at the age of 50. Although at times she cried, she always found the strength to press on, often encouraged by her big brother, Tyrone. She never stopped choosing joy and laughter when it came to her children and her dogs.
In addition to her parents, Julia was preceded in death by her brother, Nathan Sands; grandparents, Samuel Harkless, Sr. and Ophelia Richardson Harkless; and great-grandparents, Doc and Henrietta McDowell Harkless and Jim and Della Richardson.
Julia leaves to cherish her memories her four daughters, Deidra Lashawn Speaks of Charleston, SC, Tanisha Lillian Nicole Speaks, Tariqua Renee Bennett and Shaniyah Lanae Thompson all of Columbia, SC; two sons, Tyrone Lamar Speaks and Yancey Lovell Thompson both of Columbia, SC; four granddaughters, Madicyn Bri’elle Speaks, Rolan Carter Thompson, Symeria Bennett and Nivea Bennett all of Columbia, SC; two brothers, Deacon Tyrone Sands of Gaston, SC and SSgt (ret.) Stacy (Stephanie) Sands, Jr. of Fort Bragg, NC; two step-sisters, Evelyn Keith of Charlotte, NC and Queen Nelson of NY; five aunts, Nettie Rumph, Shirley T. Harkless, Rosalena Gardner and Margaret Chisolm all of Gaston, SC and Helen (Robert, Jr.) Williams of Swansea, SC; one great-aunt, Frankie Mae Harkless of West Columbia, SC; four nieces, Chloe (Gabriel) Sands-Finklestein of Chicago, IL, Raven R. Sands, Tyletta B. Sands, and Melanie A. Sands all of Gaston, SC; two nephews, Stacy Sands, Jr. of Italy and Matthew Sands of FL; godson, Montrel Felder; devoted friend, Lynn Foster of Columbia, SC; and a host of cousins, relatives and friends who will all miss her dearly.
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