Justin Francois Avery was born to Jude and Emma Vaughn (Vaughnie) Avery, August 30, 1985, and the youngest by eleven years of three children. His sisters Nadine, 29, and Nicole (Bell) 33, along with his parents, considered his birth a gift from God and he was always appreciated as such. His presence brightened the lives of his family, friends and community with his friendly smile and manners and quickly became known for his pleasant traits and honest ways. He participated in all sports available in the area, and especially throughout his school life, and was always ready for a “good game” of hockey, baseball, golf, etc., whenever friends called on him. He graduated from Guysborough Academy in June, 2003, with an Honours High School Diploma.

Justin was also very blessed to have had many opportunities afforded to him during his short 18 years. At age 14, he and his sister, Nadine, went back-packing through Europe visiting 8 different countries where they experienced such things as the Pope’s 80th birthday Mass at St. Peter’s Square, saw and heard the Vienna Boy’s Choir in Vienna Austria, saw the Mona Lisa in Le Louvre and La Cathedrale Notre Dame in Paris, etc. In April, 2003, he along with his parents and Nadine saw and heard Yanni in concert, at the Nassau County Coliseum, Long Island, New York, and the production “Chicago” on Broadway. He visited Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, St John’s Newfoundland, Florida, all the eastern seaboard states and the Maritimes. Although Justin experienced all this, he was very modest about his experiences and told very few people about them.

His sister, Nicole, and brother-in-law Chris Bell, provided Justin with two much cherished nephews, Evan and Haydn whom he loved dearly and would spend endless hours playing with them whenever time and opportunity would permit him to do so. They were as proud of him as he was of them and a relationship of deep-rooted love existed among them which was precious to observe and witness.  Chris introduced Justin to wilderness camping at a very young age, as well as rock climbing, sailing, kayaking and other nautical sports. Nicole’s strength of character and guidance and Chris’s wit and desire to find and explore new frontiers to challenge, helped mold Justin’s young, energetic, and inquisitive mind.

His greatest passion, however, was music. He played the recorder and the clarinet in the school bands throughout his elementary and junior high years. At age 14, Justin met his first guitar teacher, Garth Wilson, and immediately fell in love with his new instrument, the guitar. He demonstrated abilities for it that could only be matched by his passion and determination. His development was rapid and his love for it was evident. Never would he refuse an opportunity to play whether at home, with friends, or at public events. Justin became known as “the friendly kid who played an awesome guitar”. He played in the High School Jazz Combo under the direction of Steve Wright.  After high school, Justin registered in the St. Francis Xavier University Jazz Music Studies Program where he had very successfully completed his first semester. He and this music program was “a marriage made in heaven”. He loved everything about it, and everyone in it. He was “on his way”!

Unfortunately, early New Year’s Day, Justin was struck down by a minivan as he was walking home from a party with friends. He never regained consciousness during the next 15 days in the Halifax Infirmary ICU Unit and died January 15, 2004, as a result of the severe head trauma. During that two week period, a web site was set up by his cousin, Blaise MacPhee, and 2500 messages were sent to him and his family with words of encouragement and condolences coming from Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kuwait, England, France, more than 20 States of the U.S., and all provinces and Territories of Canada. There was also a message from Steve Vai, a world renowned guitarist who was featured in the movie “Crossroads”. Steve Vai invited Justin to visit and "jam" with him in Los Angeles, or they would do so on the east coast during Vai’s next visit if Justin survived the injury. It was Justin’s first guitar teacher, Garth Wilson, who wrote to Steve Vai with his story which prompted the message, because Justin had become a big fan of “Dr. Vai” and was moved not only by his music, but also his knowledge, passion, and discipline.

A Scholarship Fund in his memory has been established at St. Francis Xavier University and a Bursary/Scholarship of $500.00 will be given to a student annually who demonstrates an above average ability and passion for guitar while he/she is also involved in extra-curricular activities in the field of music. His picture and life story will also be displayed in the Music Department of the university. A great tribute to a great kid from the little village of Larry’s River that he was so proud to call “home”!

May He Rest In Peace!  

written by Jude Avery - Posted March 2, 2004
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