National Best Friends Day is celebrated on June 8, and is meant to show gratitude towards those friends who have stood by us through thick and thin. There may be no better representation than Julie Welch and Jane Bowyer, who have been friends for more than a half-century. In 1967, they met through their husbands, who were colleagues in the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley. Soon their families were vacationing together, including frequent backpacking expeditions in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
“When my family would go on sabbaticals to another country to live, we’d often rent out our house early and stay with Julie and her family before we left,” chuckled Jane.
Earlier this year, Jane’s husband of 64 years passed away, so she decided to tour Piedmont Gardens senior living community, where Julie has lived for five years.
“I’d visited Julie at Piedmont Gardens before and eaten meals here,” said Jane. “When I was taken around to see apartments, I don’t know if it was by chance or planned, but they happened to show me the apartment right across the hall from Julie.”
Whether providence or not, it was certainly good fortune. The pair eat meals together a few times each week, run errands, visit the nearby rose garden, or partake in happy hour every Thursday afternoon.
“We drink together; that keeps the friendship going,” laughed Jane, who picked up a taste for sake during travels in Japan. “We’ve gotten to know each other really, really well now,” added Julie.
After all they’ve experienced together over 54 years, the friends now find themselves mere feet from each other’s front door.
“With my husband recently passing, for the first time in my life I’m alone a lot,” said Jane. “Even just knowing Julie is here makes all the difference.”