Justin Stewart French, 53
James French. (Courtesy photo)
Justin Stewart French, 53, of Havre passed away peacefully Aug. 16, surrounded by his loving wife, mother, two daughters and brother after a lengthy battle with post COVID-19 related complications.
Justin was born March 8, 1968, in Libby to Justine (Marie) Jam and John French. As a small boy, he grew up on his paternal grandparents’ ranch on Wolf Creek outside of Libby. Justin was a happy baby, bringing much joy to his grandparents’ home and to his aunts and uncles, who all doted on him.
As soon as he could walk, he’d toddle between his parents’ and his grandparents’ cabins, eating a meal at each home. His family thought he’d grow up to be 400 pounds. Instead he grew up strong and tall.
He graduated from high school in Greybull, Wyo., in 1986. He attended trade school in Casper and received his welding certificate. In January 1994, while working on a ranch in Elmo, Justin began dating and fell in love with his soulmate, Carilla Martin, and her baby daughter, Rebekah. Justin and Carilla married six months later on June 11, 1994, at Lake Mary Ronan. Their daughter Samantha was born in 1995.
Justin was a force, standing 6-foot-4 and towering even higher in his cowboy boots. He worked for BNSF Railway in Havre as a machinist for 23 years, and was respected and admired by his coworkers in the diesel shop. When he wasn’t working hard, he was having a damn good time. Justin loved taking his wife out on the town for good food, drinks and dancing. He was an avid golfer. All through the long North Central Montana winters, he’d watch golf on TV. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Just the way he said things could make a person laugh harder than they ever had.
He was so proud of his wife, daughters and mother for all of their accomplishments. He was so grateful he lived long enough to see his daughters grow to be women with good educations. He had the kindest heart, and he selflessly lifted up those he loved best, which is the greatest gift he left. While he lived for far too short a time, those who knew him and loved him can count themselves truly blessed.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Montana State University Northern Foundation in Havre. Funds will assist in creating a scholarship for the MSUN Nursing Program. Justin also wanted to encourage everyone he knew and loved to get vaccinated for COVID-19, and for them to encourage everyone they know and love to get vaccinated as well.
Justin was preceded in death by maternal grandparents, Ralph and Wanda Jam, and paternal grandparents, Richard and June French. He is survived by his wife, Carilla French; daughters, Rebekah Martin and Samantha French; mother, Marie Jam; father John French; stepparents, Jim Fifield and Jan French; brothers, Blaine and Warren Fifield and Tyler French; sister, Sally French; and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A small graveside service will be held at Conrad Cemetery in Kalispell on Aug. 27 and a celebration of life will be held in Havre at a later date.