Julie Arbuckle was born to Joseph and Patricia Arbuckle in Tupelo, Mississippi on May 29, 1963. Joseph was an attorney and Patricia was a homemaker, raising Julie and her sister, Frances. Skilled in compromise and resolution techniques, Joseph raised his children to work out disputes around the house in a calm and rational manner. Once, Patricia walked into the bedroom the girls shared and noticed a schedule they had drawn up for sharing a doll. In kindergarten and play groups, Julie often directed children to share toys.
In elementary school, Julie's conciliatory nature made her a favorite of her teachers. Classmates recall that she was never in trouble and often helped other children avoid fights on the playgrounds. Witnesses often remarked that she received high marks in her classes and was well-liked by her classmates, although some thought she interjected herself into their affairs too much.
In high school, Julie played the clarinet and really focused on her math classes. She continued to be well-liked but didn't date very much. She preferred to spend time with groups of her friends and often played matchmaker and suggested what the prospective couple should do on their dates.
After graduation, Julie attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford where she majored in accounting. During her senior year, she began dating a business major from Jackson named Tom Wilton. Her professors recall that Julie seemed to be very much in love, very happy, but still took her studies very seriously. The couple became engaged and began making wedding plans. But shortly after graduation, Tom Wilton was killed in an automobile accident. Newspaper reports and police records show that another car suddenly lost control and ran Wilton off the road where he hit a pine tree. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
"Julie made it through, but she never had much interest in dating after that," said friend Jennifer Brannock. "Julie went to work for Jones & Cullman accounting firm in Oxford and threw herself into her work," according to Brannock. In 1992, Julie launched her own accounting practice and built a lengthy list of clients.
Julie had purchased a home in the Whitehall neighborhood of Oxford in 1987, where she was known for keeping her property spotless and encouraging others to do the same. By 1999, the neighborhood formed an association of homeowners, and Julie became active in that organization. She was frequently called on to mediate disputes, and neighbors often came to Julie for advice.
In 2005, Julie finally ran for president of the homeowners' association. "We had been pushing her for years," said neighbor Henrik Magnuson. "She was always so involved, it made perfect sense." Julie was elected in a landslide. Her first act was to set up recycling centers around the neighborhood for homeowners to drop off their materials, and she enacted a rule that all association events use recyclable materials instead of disposable.
The main complaint during Julie's administration was that her skill at compromise meant that often no one felt like they got their way. "She was such a good compromiser," Magnuson said "that no one ever ‘won,' so to speak. She was like Solomon, always splitting the baby. Eventually people got tired of not getting things their way, so she was voted out."
Since Ambrose Garrett's election, Julie has remained polite and magnanimous about her defeat. Neighbor Angie Scott said "Julie never pouted or anything. And even though a lot of folks had complaints about Ambrose, she always supported him and suggested people work together to resolve their differences."