OBITUARY: Maj. James “Papa” Justus passes away at 100 years old
Maj. James “Papa” Justus died in his sleep April 28 in Madison, Ala. This Christian lived 100 years.
Born June 2, 1922 to Ray and Alphia Justus, Jim grew up in McRae, Ark., until the age of 10. He graduated from high school, then at age 20, entered the U.S. Army Air Corps (later named ‘Air Force’ in 1947 after World War II) as an airplane mechanic.
After joining the Aviation Cadet program, he graduated from Bombardier School. Jim attended the University of Alabama for USAF officer training and served as 2nd Lieutenant for 18 months. He would also serve as 1st Lieutenant, Captain and Major.
Jim married Bernice Nell (DeFord) Justus on Dec. 30, 1947 in Shreveport, La., where he was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base. He qualified as Fighter Pilot the next year and loved piloting the P-51 Mustang.
By 1950, the couple moved to Biloxi, Miss.’ Keesler AFB where they welcomed firstborn, Jimmy Scott. Jim then fought in Korea for two years. His third tour of duty was in Germany in 1959. Upon returning stateside to New York’s Rome AFB, they welcomed son, David, in 1961. Jim retired with 21 years in the Air Force in 1963 and moved the family to Jonesboro, Ark., before relocating to Plant, Ark., to run a cattle farm.
They moved to Clinton, Ark., in 1969, where he worked as Van Buren County’s property appraiser until he retired in 1985. Jim and Nell moved in 2003 to Madison, Ala., to be near David’s family.
Preceded in death by wife, Nell; son, Dr. Jimmy Scott Justus; older brother, John Justus and younger sister, Mary Katherine Dixon, Jim’s survivors include son David Justus and wife Nancy of Madison, Ala.; granddaughter Kimberly Sitton and husband Ronald of Trumann, Ark.; granddaughter Jami Justus and husband Michael Seger of Conway, Ark.; granddaughter Libby (Justus) Griffith and husband Jeremy of Cabot, Ark.; grandson Tad Justus and wife Miranda of Madison, Ala.; five great-grandsons and a great-granddaughter.
A graveside service arranged by Roller-Farmers Union Funeral Home was held held Monday, May 1 at Jonesboro’ Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorials may be made in Jim’s name to Alzheimer’s Association, Huntsville Office, 7800 Madison Blvd. Ste. 503, Huntsville, Ala. 35806.
The online guestbook can be found at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/Jonesboro.