Who is Luke Letlow's wife Julia Barnhill? How Covid-19 cut short a 7-year romance
Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport after struggling with Covid-19 complications. He was 41. Letlow was reportedly transferred from St Francis Medical Center to the Ochsner LSU Health ICU on December 23 but ultimately succumbed to the medical complications.
Survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two young children, the family's spokesman Andrew Bautsch said in a statement: “The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time,” adding, “A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.”
Back on December 18, 2020, he announced that he tested positive for Covid-19 and was quarantined at his Richland Parish home. However, the symptoms soon became severe and he was admitted to St Francis and eventually transferred to Shreveport.
Who was Luke Letlow?
Born in Start, west of Monroe, Luke Joshua Letlow was raised by Dianne and Johnny Letlow. The youngest son in the family dubbed as “a ninth-generation Louisianian” graduated from Ouachita Christian High School and then studied at Louisiana Tech University in 2003 to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. Interestingly, he has worked as an intern for John Cooksey in 2000 when Cooksey represented Louisiana's 5th congressional district and worked for US Representative Bobby Jindal during Jindal's tenure from 2005 to 2008.
Letlow served as chairman of the Louisiana Tech College Republicans in 2001 and as the State Chairman of the Louisiana Federation of College Republicans in 2002. He served as campaign manager for Ralph Abraham and soon became his chief of staff during his three-term tenure. Recently, in a run-off election on December 5, 2020, he defeated State Representative Lance Harris.
A lifelong Republican, Luke is credited to have worked alongside Congressman Ralph Abraham and President Donald Trump to make sure Washington listens to real people and has helped unleash the Great American Comeback.
Who is Julia Barnhill Letlow?
Married to Luke, Julia Barnhill Letlow grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, and currently works as an Executive Assistant to the President for External Affairs and Community Outreach. Her website reads, “She attributes her bubbly personality to her mother and her business acumen to her father (financial planner). After high school Julia made the decision to major in a relatively new field, Speech Communications, and she never looked back.”
She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a BA and MA in Speech Communications and then went on to pursue her PhD in Communication from the University of South Florida. At that time, she taught public speaking, interpersonal communication, persuasion, and health communication. From 2007 to 2011 Julia served directly under the Provost and VP of Academic Affairs at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Barnhill continued to pursue her academic career as a Faculty Member and the Director of Education at Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology. When she was not in the classroom, Julia was busy consulting business professionals, medical students, and doctors on how to improve their communication skills and gain their desired results, her website also reveals.
A life of tragedy
Before Luke breathed his last, Letlow posted on Facebook, “Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers and well wishes.”
She added, “While Luke continues his treatment and remains in stable condition, the doctors have told us the road to recovery and the length of time is hard to predict and different for everyone. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of support we have received and feel truly blessed to be touched by the prayers of so many. However, we are now asking for your patience as we face this battle privately as a family in order to give Luke the rest he needs to ensure his recovery. We will do our best to keep everyone informed on Luke’s progress through posts here and appreciate your understanding as we navigate this journey.”
This is not the first time she has lost a close one. Earlier, she lost her brother, Jeremy, in a traffic crash as a teenager. On October 16, she captioned an old photo: “On this day I love dreaming about what you would be doing at the age of 36. Happy Birthday in heaven Jeremy.”
A love for the ages
Luke and Julia tied the knot in April 2013. Her website reveals, “After marrying the love of her life, Julia began a new chapter in the wonderful city of Denver, CO. This new adventure has opened many new and exciting possibilities to assist corporations and individuals with their overall organizational and interpersonal communication skills.”
The two had two little kids — Jeremiah John Letlow and Jacqueline Taylor Letlow — after they fell in love. According to Young Guns 2020, “they cherished their life raising their two young children in Start, on the same land where Luke’s great-grandfather once lived and worked as a tenant-farmer. They worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Monroe.”
The two often shared loving posts about each other on social media. In one such post, Letlow wrote about his wife, “Yesterday, I watched with pride and awe as my wife interviewed as a semi-finalist for the ULM Presidential search. She let her passion to better this region and her bold vision for ULM guide her as she interviewed with grace and strength. Anyone who truly knows my wife knows that her determination is a force to be reckoned with, her vision is inspiring, and her passion is contagious. Julia, I am so proud of you for stepping forward, and I know there are many others who feel the same way. While this may not have been your time, you are destined for greatness. And it will be the highest honor of my life to be by your side through it all.”
A devastating loss
After his death, several close ones mourned his death. “COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. “I am heartbroken that he will not be able to serve our people as a US representative, but I am even more devastated for his loving family.”
Expressing sorrow, he added, “I hope all of the people of Louisiana will join Donna and me in praying for Congressman-elect Letlow’s family, especially his wife Julia and their two children, his many friends and the people of the 5th Congressional District. Louisiana has lost more than 7,300 people to COVID-19 since March, and each one of them leaves a tremendous hole in our state.” Moreover, Republican US Senator Bill Cassidy said, “Luke will be missed dearly across Louisiana, and we all mourn his passing.”
LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor GE Ghali said Letlow died from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection. “It's devastating to our entire team,” Ghali said, adding, “He had no underlying conditions. It was just COVID.”