Jerry Thomas Justus, Born November 29, 1938, in Asheville, North Carolina – Died peacefully at home on January 5, 2024, in Polson, Montana.
Jerry Justus – known to family and friends as “J.J.” and later as “Papa J.J.” – was born to Lillian and Drayton Justus Sr. in Asheville, North Carolina.
J.J. graduated from Duke University and went on to do amazing things, including creating the two-way-radio for the pit crew of a racing team and being part of the design team that created the solid fuel propellant for the shuttle spacecraft program. In 1972, he married Kay Postlethwait and moved coast to coast in the early years following job opportunities. They had two daughters, Jenna and Christa, and eventually settled in Vista, CA to raise their girls. The remainder of his career was in sales and marketing for various engineering firms. He loved to travel – for both business and leisure – and his occupation took him around the world.
When his wife Kay passed away in 2002, J.J. retired and moved to Polson, Montana. Upon his retirement, he decided to sever relations with his personal barber and continue his travel adventures by motorcycle. He traveled the U.S. and Canada and then expanded his adventures around the world to New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Brazil, Morocco and more. He explored the globe riding many types of motorcycles with his hair whipping his shoulders in the wind. At the age of 80, a thousand-mile bike trip was just a short jaunt in his eyes. J.J. was also fond of cruising and was able to take a bucket list journey on Viking to cruise the Rhine River with his daughter, Jenna, in 2019.
Anyone who knew J.J. knew that he had a prolific vocabulary and was an incredible storyteller. The sky wasn’t just blue, it was cerulean. He loved to discuss the vicissitudes of life and point out the lenticular clouds. Every conversation with J.J. was sprinkled with sophisticated words. He loved to share stories of his adventures…..and his gregarious nature (and long hair and beard!) made him memorable to others, wherever he went.
J.J. was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Drayton Jr., and his wife, Kay.
He is survived by daughters Jenna (Kyle Sheppard) and Christa (Mark Ramberg); grandchildren Jeremy Sheppard, Kayla Sheppard, Hayden Ramberg, Lillian Ramberg, and Justus Ramberg.
Service will be held on January 27, 2024, at 1 pm at Jones Cemetery in Flat Rock, North Carolina
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the memory of Jerry “J.J.” Justus to The Lake County Council on Aging.