Justin Eric Shoemaker
June 14, 1976 – September 30, 2012
With a passion for life and an unconditional love for family, Justin spent his life being more than anyone could have ever asked for in a person. He was an amazing uncle, a loving brother and son, and an all-around great man. Even at Justin’s worst, he was a selfless and caring individual.
It was in the middle of the summer in 1976 when the Shoemaker family welcomed Justin with open arms after a motorcycle ride to her routine check-up, in which his mom, Rhonda, happened to go into labor. Eric and Rhonda met and fell in love with baby Justin and didn’t even realize the impact that he would have on them and the footprints he would leave on the
heart of every person who had the pleasure of knowing him. Justin was unarguably one of the kindest and sincere people to have ever lived and will continue to live on in the hearts and memories of his family.
As a die-hard dog lover, Justin has owned and loved a number of dogs but one that will always stand out was his first dog, Holly. She wasn’t just his dog, she was his companion. They were nearly inseparable and had their fair share of adventures together. Of course his family will never forget the day that Justin had wondered off and Eric received a call from the Park County Sheriff’s office.
“Do you have a son named Justin?” They asked.
“He’s here with his dog Holly, and he is telling me he’s on a mission to see his mom, Rhonda.”
Justin and Holly’s companionship continued on until Holly passed when Justin was 11 years old.
Having lived with his Grandma Jan and his aunt Wendy from the age of five, Justin attended Metz Elementary as well as Schmidt Elementary where he realized he had a knack for learning and could catch on to things quickly if he put his mind to it. Unfortunately, to his family’s dismay, at the very young age of nine, Justin was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. With little
understanding of what was happening to him and to his health his Dad decided to take him on a cross country motorcycle ride to show him that regardless of his diagnosis, it did not need to define who he is, and he could continue to live a normal and happy life. They visited Nashville, TN., St. Augustine, FL., Washington D.C., and visited his Grandma Mary Shoemaker in Dubois, PA. Despite having diabetes he found a passion for school and didn’t let it hold him back. By the time he was done in elementary school he excelled academically. He developed wonderful friendships with both his cousin Ricky, and Ronnie. Of all his friendships, the strongest bond was always between Justin and his brother Shane. Shane will always remember watching his brother climb the big tree in their yard, and watching him fall right out as his mom was telling him to get down or he would break his arm. Sure enough, that was his first broken bone! Around this age is when Shane and Justin attended the Boys Club, and developed their love of pool. Rhaeanna and Michelle will always remember their brothers bringing them to pool halls when they were little.
Another thing Justin found a passion for early on was anything that had wheels, gears and could get you from point A to point B at an accelerated rate. By the age of 12, while he was attending Hendrix Junior High, he was considered the “Cool Kid” because he was the only one there who had a BMX bike. This only encouraged him further, causing his obsession with anything cars or bikes to be carried over into high school, where he was
always known for his little blue bug that turned a 10 minute drive into less than 5. It was then, at Clear Creek High School, that he discovered his artistic abilities and began creating beautiful pieces of wood work and some pretty intricate drawings. His family will always cherish their personalized drawings that Justin drew for them. For years Justin continued honing his creative abilities turning regular everyday objects into amazing new creations, such as a lamp his family will always remember, and pencil holders for his drawing table. Clear Creek High School will always be an example of how he never let diabetes control him or put limitations his abilities. He graduated with honors in 1995, continuously to defying the odds
with his ability to remain happy and optimistic. Upon graduating high-school Justin decided to move back to Arizona to be with his dad and his sister. He pursued a career at The Native New Yorker in Mesa, AZ where he realized he had a true passion for cooking, and continued on as their head chef. Even though he loved being a chef, he loved his family more. He returned to Colorado after his dad and sister moved back, where he lived with Shane and April for 3 years. Around this time, he was working at LePeep, a restaurant in Evergreen, Colorado. Justin enjoyed working there and doing what he loved until his disease caused his health to deteriorate, taking a toll on his physical abilities and rendering him unable to keep a job. Justin was not an outspoken person, but when he spoke his mind it was honest and sincere. He had such an amazing sense of humor and when you team that up with his blunt honesty, individuality, and his wardrobe, you could always count on him to be wearing a shirt that just may cause you to do a double take. His family always admired his ability to tell it like it is. It was never sugar coated, but never was it to intentionally hurt people. Justin’s love for his family was unyielding and he could always be counted on if any one of them ever needed anything. He was a truly loving uncle, brother, and son. He wished more than anything that he could watch both his nieces and nephews as they grow up. He will be remembered in part with his sensitivity
with the kids, but also being very stern and disciplined with them so he could do his part to ensure they grew up with the best quality of life. His time spent with his nieces and nephews are those that will be held in the hearts and memories of his entire family.
Justin is the type of person who truly inspires the phrase “To each his own.” He had his own little quarks that everyone will remember him by, such as:
*His need to shower or bath several times a day and talent for racking up Shane and April’s water bill.
*His love for The Sopranos, which inspired him to name his 2 dogs Furio & Carmela.
*His love for cars and big trucks! Justin loved his Blazer!
*His love for crunchy French fries.
*His inability to eat a meal outdoors. He would rather be inside, or even a car if a house was not available!
*His ability to scare little kids and adults alike with his white eye contacts.
*He love for NASCAR, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.-
Justin’s will to live inspired everyone who ever knew him. He fought hard and continuously in an effort to be able to watch his family grow up and expand. His inability to sugar coat meant his family never doubted his love for them, and his love will never be forgotten. He was admirable in every way possible and will live on in the memories of all who knew him. He truly is our HERO and will forever be deeply missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing him! We love you Justin.
Watch the Video Justin’s Dad Made Below
Unfortunately, to his family's dismay, at the very young age of nine, Justin was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. With little understanding of what was happening to him and to his health his Dad decided to take him on a cross country motorcycle ride to show him that regardless of his diagnosis, it did not need to define who he is, and he could continue to live a normal and happy life. They visited Nashville, TN., St. Augustine, FL., Washington D.C., and visited his Grandma Mary Shoemaker in Dubois, PA and then back to Colorado. The trip was about 4,000 miles and the memories of the motorcycle trip will always be cherished by his dad. Justin lost his battle with Juvenile Diabetes September 30, 2012. Justin truly is our HERO and will forever be deeply missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing him! We love you Justin.