The following is a poem Craig resident Jennifer Hall wrote about her friend, the late Justin Dean Bliss:
I’m free don’t grieve for me now
I’m following the path God laid for me
I took his hand when I heard him
I turned my back and left it all
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work or play
Tasks undone must stay that way.
I found my peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void
then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a hug
Ah yes, things I too will miss
Be not burdened with time and sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow
My life has been full I savored much
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief
Lift up your heart and share with me
God wanted me now, he set me free
Even in the toughest times, Justin Dean Bliss had the ability to make his friends smile.
“One of my favorite memories of him, I was having a really bad day because my grandpa had just passed away,” said Jennifer Hall, a friend of Bliss’ for 18 years. “He made a joke about how it’s OK when you go to heaven because the angels will be there to get you.”
Bliss, 34, died Tuesday after being hit by a semi-trailer. He was buried Friday in Olathe.
“Even if it was a joke that was one you’d heard before, it still made you laugh by the way he told it,” Hall said. “He could tell a joke 100 times and every time he told it was a different way.”
His humor was a common appreciation among his friends.
“It didn’t matter what kind of bad day you were having, he’d at least get you to crack a smile or something,” said Dean David.
Hall and David were Bliss’ neighbors at Columbine Apartments in Craig. Both talk about his habit of walking where he needed to go.
One of his frequent trips was a venture just more than a mile from his apartment to the Loaf ‘n Jug at the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 13 to get cigarettes and coffee.
Hall believes it may have been where Bliss was going Tuesday.
“He was very energetic because he’d walk the stretch two or three times per day,” Hall said. “Once Walmart got built, he’d walk as far as Walmart to do his grocery shopping or whatever he had to do.
“He never once took the cab or anything. No matter what the road conditions were, he was always out there walking.”
The walk, Hall said, gave Bliss a chance to clear his head.
“You could stop and offer him a ride, but he wouldn’t take it,” she said. “He’d rather walk.”
Besides his walks, his friends also spoke of his kindness and willingness to help those in need.
“He would take the shirt off his back in the middle of dead winter for somebody that needed it,” said David, who met Bliss when he offered to help move David into his apartment.
It wasn’t the only time that Bliss offered to help David.
A few years later, Bliss helped motivate David when he was in a rut and drinking heavily.
“He kept on telling me, ‘You’ve got to quit drinking, you’ve got to get back on your feet, you’ve got to get your life straightened out,’” David said. “Between him and a couple of my other friends, it actually kept me from drinking.”
Hall said Bliss never let his introverted personality keep him from helping.
“Even though he was shy he would still help those in need,” she said. “If you needed something, he would try to help you any way he could. He was a very giving person.”
Several members of Bliss’ immediate family declined comment for this story, but his grandmother, Joyce Hensley, said that he was a kind and introverted person.
“He was a good person,” said Hensley, who lives near several of Bliss’ other family members in Olathe. “He just had his life that he lived, his own life, and that’s the way he liked to live.”
Like Hall and David, Hensley said Bliss enjoyed helping other people.
“I just have a lot of good memories of him when he was a child and when he was growing up to be a young man,” Hensley said.
Now that he’s gone, both Hall and David said Bliss’ absence is notable.
“I always saw him walking and I would always run into him when I was out walking my dogs,” Hall said. “So yeah, I’ve noticed in the last couple of days that he’s not there anymore and it’s weird.
“I think a lot of us out here are having that same issue.”
Scott Schlaufman can be reached at 875-1792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.