Here is the speech Martin Saul gave at the memorial.
Justin was like a brother to me. He encouraged me in the best of times
and always helped dissuade me
from succumbing to the general cowardice of common American banality. No one here including me ever
knew the extent of Justin's powers. His is a truly brilliant soul that will never be extinguished. Justin, you
are the heart of Boulder and now you're at rest over twice our height imparting vitality to every drop of
water issuing forth from that sacred Indian watershed. I taste your enthusiasm in the water I drink and feel
your strength in the fat ice of Boulder Canyon. I am truly sorry Justin for never having told you how much
I admired you for your acute awareness and outstanding intuition. Your keen attitude and cool but avid
approach were a real inspiration to me, and I swear to you I will forever honor your legacy. Thank you
Justin for having shared some of your priceless time with me, you improved every situation and had a
remarkable ability of extracting the essence of the matter in seconds. The Justinian era is not over!!!!!!!!!!!
Follow-up note to the Eugene memorial for Justin Colonna
Dear Jerry, Susan, Ann and family,
Steve Fulmer here. I can’t thank you enough for the honor of sitting
with Justin’s family. Justin (like
everyone in his family) was always extremely kind to me, a matter of great personal gratitude for much of
the last twenty years—and for the rest of my life. I adored Justin’s freshness, his joie de vivre, his openness.
The service in Eugene was exquisite and profoundly reflected the love
of his family and many friends. I
learned how extremely blessed I was to have him affect my life as he had so many others.
When ‘O, Mio Babino Caro’ was played at the reception, I was immediately
haunted by it because it was
familiar to me. I’m only literate in a half dozen operas, but couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t until Tom called
after returning to Portland that I knew it was from Gianni Schicchi, a one act Puccini opera that I performed
in English while in college. Like most opera novices I was trying to place the aria in a very serious scene.
Actually, it is from the only semi-serious moment in an otherwise comic story line. How impishly appropriate
for Justin, I thought. It seemed even more so as I reviewed the plot.
The main character, Gianni Schicchi, is a very smart, fun-loving character
known to all the townspeople, but
someone who has always been so busy fully living life that he’s never really “amounted to much” financially.
The aria is an appeal from his beloved daughter for his help in arranging a dowry so that she can marry her
beloved Rinuccio (see words below). Immediately searching for an answer to help his daughter, Gianni is also
pressed for advice from the relatives of an old miser who has just died and left his estate to the church, much
to the horror of the greedy relatives. Unlike everyone else present who is bemoaning fate, Gianni only looks for
“the good that’s trying to happen.” He alone thinks far enough outside the box to note the potential synergy of
the two problems. Ultimately, Gianni imitates the dead miser long enough to get the will revised so that the
greedy relatives get something, but he bequeaths the most valuable parts of the estate to his “dear old friend”
Gianni Schicchi (himself). Gianni’s wily windfall becomes his daughter’s dowry, of course.
The short aria is very, very beautiful and incorporates the musical
theme of the opera. The opera itself is a classic
‘love versus greed’ story, in which love triumphs. As the central character, Gianni always sees the joy and
possibilities of life—while his contemporaries are trapped within views of greed, scarcity and jealousy.
It may well be that Justin loved this song simply because it is so beautiful.
I suspect, however, that he also
knew and loved the story line and the comical, “circumstantial” triumph of justice. I also can’t say that Justin
identified with Gianni, but the parallels were obvious enough for me to share my personal insights.
Justin touched me deeply and will continue to for a very long time.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, not only
for nurturing him to adulthood, but also for sharing such a meaningful and loving celebration of his life with
others who loved him.
Oh! Mio Babino Caro
From Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
English version by Anne and Herbert Grossman
Published by Ricordi/Belwin-Mills
Oh my beloved daddy, won’t you be kind and help us?
You know I love Rinuccio; I cannot live without him!
Oh please, do not refuse me. He is my life, my future!
And if we can’t be married, I shall be lost forever!
Without him life is over! Oh God, I’d rather die!
Give us your help, I pray. Give us your help, I pray!
I just received this from a friend: from Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's
Souland I remembered Justin & what
he learned in his short life.
Rites of Passage
Some of the most poignant moments I spend as a veterinarian are those spent with my clients assisting the
transition of my animal patients from this world to the next. When living becomes a burden, whether from pain
or loss of normal functions, I can help a family by ensuring that their beloved pet has an easy passing. Making
this final decision is painful, and I have often felt powerless to comfort the grieving owners. That was before I
I had been called to examine a ten-year-old blue heeler named Belker
who had developed a serious health problem.
The dog's owners - Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane - were all very attached to Belker and they
were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no
miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we
made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four- year-old Shane to observe
the procedure. They felt Shane could learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch
in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that
I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The
little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after
Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had
been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next
stunned me - I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "Everybody is born so that they can learn
how to live a good life - like loving everybody and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, animals
already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."
By Robin Downing, D.V.M. from Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul
Copyright 1998 by Jack Canfield, Mark
Victor Hansen, Marty Becker and Carol Kline
To the family of Justin Colonna:
I only met Justin a few times, years ago when he was in middle school
and I was an administrator at South Eugene
High School and worked with his father, Jerry. I helped Jerry put in a dishwasher at their Eugene house one weekend.
Another time, I assisted with a refurbishing of their bathroom. It was on these occasions, and having dinner twice
with the three of them, that I had a chance to chat with the middle schoolboy named Justin and his sister, Anne.
This is what I remember; a boy with tousled hair and a wry smile. I still see that boy in my mind's eye and I saw
that boy in the pictures today.
I am grateful to all of you for introducing me to the Justin the college
graduate during the Eugene Memorial Service.
In a small and significant way, I was able to comprehend the wonderful experience of knowing someone I really
didn't know--as told by others and translated with stories and video and song and tears. I was touched by the raw
emotion that flowed across the room. It was a heartfelt embrace of a life that ended much, much too soon.
Then, instead of the reception, I hiked to the top of Mary's Peak, the
highest point on the coastal mountain range
with my two children, Jared (6) and Julia (9). I knew enough about the tragedy of Justin's final moments to
understand that the essence of this kind man will forever soar free among the cool air and tall peaks of this temporary
home we call earth. I believe this to be true.
So, I told my children about Justin, how he lived and how he died and
we said a little prayer for Justin. I know this
to be true also: I'll never listen to my Miles Davis CD in quite the same way ever again. It might bring a sad smile,
but a smile nonetheless.
Thank you for allowing me to share this wonderful day with you.
This is one of those things that can't be coincidence and I want to
share it with you. A couple of months ago the
local symphony began advertising their performance of Verdi's Requiem. Because I'm an opera fan, and because
I'm fond of Verdi, I knew I'd make an effort to hear this, especially since I'd never heard it performed live. As the
weeks went on, I asked a couple of people to accompany me, and no one was interested. Still, I knew I was going
to go. It's as if I were drawn to go by some inexplicable force. So, Friday night, February 25, I went. In addition
to the Requiem, there were two other numbers on the program. And it's the first number that has triggered this mail
to you. It was a performance of "I Crisantemi" by Puccini, whom I love and whom I remember your saying was
Justin's favorite classical composer. The conductor made some introductory remarks about the work which he said
was composed as an elegy for the Duke of Amedeo, a dear friend; Puccini apparently composed it in one night in
response to the depth of his grief. This is taken from the program notes: "The piece...is...melancholic and somber
while at the same time both remarkably simple and very expressive, its opening phrase rising chromatically toward
a grief-laden sigh." I wasn't familiar with the piece, but it spoke to me in a way that caused a visceral reaction in
my body. I somehow can't dismiss the juxtaposition of my compulsion to go hear Verdi yet to leave with Puccini
in my heart on the eve of Justin's birthday. Again I felt the impact of Colonna, this man I never met. I'm going to
purchase a recording of it, and if you don't have it already in your collection, please let me know, as I'd love to send
it to you. It's as lovely a composition as I've ever heard.
Thinking of you.
Paul and I were talking about this last night, and today when I went
to Justin's homepage the Bold yellow "Happy
24th Birthday, Justin!' confirmed our thoughts. It is a beautiful day in Colorado, nothing but sunshine and 60 degree
weather. Very unusual weather for this time of year, where we are used to very cold temperatures and plenty of snow.
I was looking through the newspaper the other day and noticed something that reminded me of Justin. The Boulder
philharmonic was going to play Beethoven's symphony #9. I got a real kick out of thinking about Justin playing this
symphony in his car while waving his arms in the air as if he really was the conductor at that time. So I decided that I
should attend this event. Little did I realize that the Boulder Philharmonic will be playing tonight, on Justin's Birthday.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to grab as many people as I can and enjoy ourselves in the company of
Justin and his music. Ann, I hope you and everyone in you family are having a great day, and if you happen to have
a copy of Beethoven's #9 play it very loud.
Love, Trevor Gainer
I have only met Justin I think twice when I was four of five so I have
no stories to share. I am sitting at work and I
can't stop reading all of these beautiful letters. I feel very unfortunate that I didn't get to know Justin. He touched so
many people. Even the letters about him touch me. My heart goes out to all that knew and loved him. At the same
time, I hope you feel that you are the lucky ones for having him in your life at all.
Sincerely, Lena Evashevski
A Tear and A Smile
I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of the multitude. And I would not have the tears that our
parting makes to flow from my every part of my body turn into laughter. I would that my life eternally remain a tear
and a smile. A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding of life's secrets and hidden things. A smile to draw
me close to memories of us together and a symbol of our partnership. A tear to unite me with those of a broken heart;
a smile to be a sign of my joy of the time we shared. And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys until it meets the
gentle breeze, and it falls weeping to the fields and joins with the brooks and rivers to return to the sea, its home. Our
life, as with the cloud, is compiled of parting and meeting. A tear and a smile.
Photo Gallery 1
Letters & Memories
A Speech For Justin
The Book List Justin Links Photo Gallery 2 Justin's Story
South Arapaho Peak More Letters Photo Gallery 3 Justin's Many Faces
Justin The Writer More South Arapaho Info