Keith & Virginia Justice
By Harold Graham
Every good journalist is taught to report the story, not to be part of it.
But that was not the case for Keith Justice on Friday, February 27, 2004. As he and his wife, Virginia Savell Justice, approached the driveway near the home in the County Line community of Neshoba County, Mississippi, their car was rear-ended by a pick-up truck driven by a young mother carrying her two small children. Keith and his wife Virginia were killed on impact. According to unofficial reports, the young mother was charged only with following too closely.
Keith was born in Marion, Ohio, on December 23, 1949. A stint in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War brought him to Mississippi where he met his future wife, Virginia Savell, while he was stationed at NAS Meridian. Following their marriage, they set up housekeeping near her parents and grandparents in the County Line community of Neshoba County.
Keith earned a Masters Degree in English from Mississippi State University, but sought journalism rather than teaching as a career. As a journalist he earned many awards and is remembered as both a skilled and prolific writer.
During his career he wrote variously for the Neshoba County Democrat, the Meridian Star, The Union Appeal, and the Newton County Impact, but it was his tenure with the Newton Record that was most heroic. Corporate offices had forced a number of negative changes on this small-town newspaper, but Keith kept pumping out stories to keep the paper alive until its current editor, Robbie Robertson, could breathe new life into a 103-year- old Newton County institution.
Although not a Mississippi native, Keith developed a fondness for Newton County and its history and many of his stories were from this bent. He was President of the Newton County Historical Society, a predecessor of NCHGS. He was also the author of Friends and Neighbors, a series of articles about some of the wonderful and intriguing people he met in Newton County.
His interests literally extended from Newton County to musicology to Mars. One of his unfinished research projects was a remote Pacific Island that contained man-eating salt-water crocodilesan island made famous during World War II due to the number of Japanese who literally disappeared while stationed there.
Keith and Virginia were buried on March 2, 2004 in County Line Cemetery, Neshoba County, Mississippi. Keith was survived by a daughter, Beverly Justice of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a son, Christopher Justice of Union, Mississippi, and his wife Donnice, by his mother, Frances Beverly Foos of Marion, Ohio, two sisters, Kay Castle and Carol Jackson, both of Marion, Ohio; and by three grandchildren, Lenia, Thomas, and Rachael Justice of Union, Mississippi.
Although the life of Keith Justice is over on this earth, his writing continues as a record of his work. One of the last stories that Keith wrote involved the search for the graves of the victims of the Chunky Train Wreck of 1863.
by Carol Shrader
Pictured Right: Senior Class Picture 1967
When this Webmaster posts new Memorials most don't hit home with the impact as did the remembrance of Virginia Savell Justice. She was my classmate. At Union Municipal School System you weren't just a classmate for a few years. You were classmates for your entire school career. We had all known each other forever.
When you're eighteen years old the world seems destined to last forever. That how things must have seemed to Virginia Savell in 1967. She was smart, hard working, and dedicated to her goal of entering the medical profession. We walked down the halls of UHS that last time, then stepped out to meet the world that awaited us. Virginia headed straight down her chosen path. The following year the class who followed us wrote a column in "Jacket's Nest" on what the Class of '67 was doing now that they were out in the big wide world. They wrote of Virginia, "Another student in the medical profession is Virginia Savell at the Mattee Hersey School of Nursing in Meridian." Somewhere down the road of life she met her soulmate Keith Justice. The rest is history.
I chose the background on this page with you in mind Virginia. Your leaf fell to the ground much too soon. Farewell from the UHS Class of '67.