September 20, 2019

Local veteran Sheldon Justice remembered as always willing to serve

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WEST BRANCH — A loyal member of the local honor guard was given honors himself after his passing, and veterans, the community and his family remember how he gave of his time and energy throughout his life.

Sheldon Justice, a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1965-1967, moved from St. Clair Shores to West Branch more than a decade ago and subsequently served in various capacities, including West Branch District Library trustee, Ogemaw County Veterans Alliance Honor Guard member, American Legion member and active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

“He was always a dedicated individual, a very can-do kind of guy, community-oriented, very involved with the school, an excellent hands-on kind of guy,” said fellow veteran and friend Cass Maciejewski. “He would never say no to a problem that came up. He would organize activities with the veterans. ... You could always count on him.”

Justice worked as a computer operator at General Motors and later the city of St. Clair Shores, before moving north with his wife Kathleen in 2007. But his mindset of community involvement had been sparked long before retirement. Kathleen explained that the couple met while volunteering in a young adults club, where Justice served as president.

“They went to a youth home with handicapped kids,” she said. “He ate that up. He loved to be around them and work with them and see that they had fun.”

They married in Detroit on July 24, 1970.

Years later, his activities still very much revolved around kids.

“He has a love of kids,” Kathleen said, noting that he coached baseball and attended basketball games. “He was always about the kids, even with our kids.”

When Justice and his wife took on the responsibility of raising their granddaughter Casey, he participated in “anything to do with our granddaughter’s school,” according to Kathleen, serving on the parents group and even as a crossing guard at St. Joseph School.

“His first thought was the safety of the kids crossing the street,” she said.

“Rain or shine he’d be outside helping the kids,” Maciejewski said.

Kathleen shared a poignant memory of how Justice loved his granddaughter.

“When he was over at Music in the Park he would dance with his granddaughter Casey,” she said. “He treasured those days.”

Fellow veteran Mark DeBoer recalled how Justice brought his involvement as a veteran to the school.

“I enjoyed the times we had folding flags and showing kids how to do it at St. Joe’s, showing how to display flags and flag etiquette,” he said. “I enjoyed working with him.”

DeBoer said he participated in a lot of funerals alongside Justice on the honor guard. He and other veterans said Justice, who served as sergeant-at-arms at the American Legion, was always willing to participate in the post’s activities.

DeBoer said as a person, Justice was friendly and easy to talk to.

“A pleasant personality — he was pretty upbeat most of the time even going through his cancer,” he said. “He will be missed.”

Kathleen could also attest to his pleasant and loving personality.

“He had a good sense of humor,” Kathleen said. “And like most husbands he could be a pain in the butt. He provided well for his family and showed an interest in everything (the kids) did. He just loved being around people.”

“He just liked being out in the community,” she said. “He was proud to help serve his community more.”

Justice passed away July 20, 2019, at the age of 75.

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