It’s been more than two years since Julie Dimperio Holowach died in a shark attack off Mackerel Cove in Harpswell.
She will never be forgotten by the many who loved and admired her. Now, her legacy of giving will live on, thanks to a scholarship to be given annually to a young woman graduating from Mt. Ararat High School.
“Julie was amazing and she made such an impression on everybody,” said Sandy Thulis, a longtime Bailey Island neighbor. “After a year, I didn’t want her memory to die. I came up with the idea about a scholarship. Patti (Neuhof) jumped forward and said she wanted to help — neither one of us had done fundraising.” They worked for months with the Maine Community Foundation. Now, tax-deductible donations can be made to the foundation in Julie’s name.
A scholarship “seemed like something that would be right and something she would want,” said Thulis, because Julie supported and encouraged other women. “You think back on your life and the people who affected you in a myriad of ways. She made you feel good about yourself.”
A marathoner and triathlete, Julie was swimming with her daughter on July 27, 2020, when the great white shark attacked. Julie, 63, was wearing a black wetsuit and the shark may have mistaken her for a seal. It was the only fatal shark attack in Maine history.
Julie’s friends describe her as encouraging, generous, supportive and kind. Once, she gave a group of friends the book, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.” Neuhof said it’s a story about different characters finding themselves through their relationships and friendships.
What set Julie apart was “her generosity of spirit, her energy, her active listening, her magnetism,” said Neuhof. “She touched so many people.”
Julie and her husband, Al Holowach, both grew up in the Bronx, New York. Julie graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and retired as president of Kipling, a handbag and luggage company. The couple, who had been together for 38 years, spent a few months a year in Naples, Florida, “to get out of the cold,” but Harpswell was home, said Holowach.
“She felt we were very fortunate having what we have and gave to the less fortunate,” said Holowach. “Not bad for two kids from the Bronx,” Julie would tell her husband.
The Julie Dimperio Holowach Scholarship Fund’s annual $1,500 award will go to a young woman graduating from Mt. Ararat High School who attends a four-year college.
To donate, mail a check to the Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605. Make the check payable to the foundation and write “Julie Dimperio Holowach Scholarship Fund” in the memo line.
To donate online, go to mainecf.org and click the “Give Now” button. On the donation page, select “Other” from the drop-down menu and type “Julie Dimperio Holowach Scholarship Fund” in the field provided.
For more information, contact Thulis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Neuhof at email@example.com. Donations will ensure the scholarship continues for years and may provide for a second scholarship, noted Thulis and Neuhof.
Said Chris Tomasino, another friend, “Julie was a peach and she would love that local girls are benefiting from her legacy.”