Julie Bass Sikes, 42, and Ashley Thompson Hartmeyer, 35, died on Monday, March 14 after injuries sustained in a Glennville automobile accident. The hole they left in their respective communities is definite and reaches far beyond Tattnall County.
Grief overwhelmed those who knew these two women as news spread of this accident. Loved ones took to Facebook and other social media outlets to express their sadness over the loss of two people who were very much loved and adored by those who knew them.
Mom, counselor, and friend
Hartmeyer, formerly of Metter, resided in Reidsville with her sons, Jordan and Johnny Hartmeyer. Their father is Michael Hartmeyer, also of Reidsville.
Whitney Williamson remembers her friend as an outstanding mom, counselor, and friend. Above anything, Hartmeyer was proud to be a mother to her boys.
“Ashley was a boy mom. She many times told me that she did not know if she could have been a girl mom and I think that is true. Ashley wasn't the pink and dresses kind of girl. She was great at being a boy mom, and I know that her boys would agree. She had the type of sense of humor that made being a boy mom perfect for her,” Williamson said. “She could laugh at the typical boy jokes. She was perfect for cheering on baseball and football games and didn't mind wrestling on the couch.”
Her kids were her pride and joy. Hartmeyer was proud of her boys despite any gray hairs they gave her, Williamson said.
“She always talked about their achievements and was always there for them,” Williamson said.
Williamson began working alongside Hartmeyer at Georgia State Prison when she began working there in 2017. She is proud to have known such a hardworking and caring woman.
Hartmeyer worked for the Department of Corrections (GDC) for 11 years and was most recently a counselor at Long State Prison. She had a passion for setting offenders on a path for success and often found homes for offenders who were homeless, a friend said on Facebook.
Before becoming a counselor, Hartmeyer was an officer and secretary for the GDC.
“Ashley was a member of an often-forgotten group of individuals who serve the public daily and she took pride in that,” Williamson said. “She was a strong-willed female in a male facility that did not take anything from anyone but made sure that she was fair and did her job. There were many days that we would go to the dorms to see offenders and, as females, we always had to deal with things being said to us. I knew that as long as I was with Ashley we would get through it and make it back safe.”
Williamson remembers how good Hartmeyer was at her job, and “she meant business.” She describes Hartmeyer as compassionate and a great listener, which benefited those in her personal life as well.
Ashley was also a friend; one Williamson is so thankful to have had. She remembers her smiling and joking 24/7. She was a brutally honest friend, and always made sure to tell Williamson when her pants were too tight.
“She was full of life and she loved hard. She was a great human and I am a better person for knowing her. I am so sad to know that she won't be around to cut up with, but I am so thankful that I got to share the laughs and memories with her that I did,” Williamson said.
Hartmeyer was a 2004 graduate of Metter High School and had received her master’s degree from Colorado Technical University in Public Administration.
She was of the Baptist faith. Her parents are Joyce and Victor Kreiser of Vidalia, and she has one brother, Patrick Thompson of Lyons.
More than a teacher; a mother and friend
Sikes was a beloved mother, daughter, sister, teacher, coach, and mentor. On the evening of March 14, she was on the way to son Cade’s baseball game. Her son, a current Claxton Tiger, has played baseball since he was a toddler, and Sikes was known to be his biggest fan.
Sikes’ oldest child is Macy (Jacob) Barrow of Claxton. Cade’s father and Macy’s stepfather is Shane Sikes, also of Claxton.
Sikes grew up in the Tattnall County community, residing in Reidsville. She is a 1997 graduate of Tattnall County High School, later graduating from Georgia Southern University with her bachelor’s degree.
She began her career in education in 2012, teaching history at Claxton High School (CHS). To say she was devoted to her students would be an understatement.
CHS students were shocked to hear about the death of their mentor and friend. She inspired students to graduate high school and continue their education, despite any hardships they faced.
Her dedication to her students was evident in not only her classroom mannerisms, but also in her drive to do more for her students. Outside the classroom, she was a volunteer advisor for the Claxton Chamber of Commerce’s Junior Board of Directors. Additionally, she led the students on various trips overseas and to presidential inaugurations, her obituary states.
Sikes was also the instructional education coach at CHS, touching more lives in this capacity. Over 600 people attended her funeral later that week, with students of CHS as pallbearers. Hundreds gathered in the pouring rain the day after Sikes died for a candlelight vigil in memory of her at the Pecan Grove football field in Claxton. In addition, her students, Kiross Singleton and Kameron Byrd, wrote a song titled, “Long Live Mrs. Sikes”.
Outside of work, Sikes was an avid Alabama Crimson Tide fan. In her free time, you could find her working out at the gym or escaping to the beach.
She was a member of Eastside Baptist Church and was preceded in death by her paternal grandfather, Carl H. Bass, Sr. Her parents are Chuck (Kathy) Bass of Glennville and Gwen (Greg) Strickland of Claxton. She was a beloved sister of Haley (Hunter) Davis of Collins, Misti (Brett) Vandenhouten of Guyton, and Brittany (Justin) Kirkland of Reidsville.
Memorials may be given to the Julie Bass Sikes Scholarship Fund, Care of South Georgia Bank.