Life Story / Obituary
Taken from his loved ones much too soon, Justin “Dean” Lewis Dean was a loyal, generous, and loving man who was deeply committed to his friends and family. Justin, “String Bean Dean,” was a man of faith who continually put the needs of others ahead of his own. Though with us far too briefly, Justin leaves behind a priceless collection of memories his loved ones will forever hold as priceless treasure in their hearts.
America at large was prospering in the ’90s. During this final decade of the 20th Century The United States economy grew by an average of 4 percent per year between 1992 and 1999, an average of 1.7 million jobs a year were added to the American work force, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent,and the median American household income grew by 10 percent. It was a decade of much good news and astounding new achievement including the collapse of The Soviet empire, the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, The civil wars in the former Yugoslavia ended and China reformed its economy, tripling its gross domestic product and easing its way into the world order. The quality of entertainment dramatically improved and creative brilliance shined in our homes in the likes of Harry Potter, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Friends, and NYPD Blue. Pixar resurrected animation with Toy Story while the digital age boomed with the mainstreaming of the internet, digital phones, 3-D games, and affordable laptops. Peace and Prosperity were the order of the day and American culture was vibrant and healthy as well. Locally, life’s good fortunes radiated especially brightly for Frank and Donna (Logan) Dean as they welcomed their son, Justin Lewis Dean, on February 23rd, 1995, into their hearts and home.
Growing up in the Nappanee and Elkhart area Justin was a naturally adventurous little boy. He was a fearless, curious climber from the start. Once when he was just 21/2 his dad had the shock of his life when he looked up from his work and saw through the window of their house that Justin was on top of the monkey bars across the street. Not only had Justin decided he was capable of successfully crossing the street alone, he had proven he was right! As a youth, he tried sports including Little League baseball, swimming, soccer, and golf, but nothing appealed to his passions quite like video games. Justin loved the competition the games afforded and relished in his wins. He also had a keen interest for food shows, enjoyed artwork, and was a proud Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls fan who devotedly claimed 23 as his favorite number and loyally wore his Air Jordans.
Though he did not particularly enjoy his days attending NorthWood High School, Justin was a true and trusted friend to those he held dearest. Justin was most comfortable in the good company of people. Justin understood the importance of nurturing his relationships; his unshakable commitment to easing the burdens of his friends and family was evident in the way he inspired others to see and be their best, to trust they were not alone, and to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel. His son, Keegan, was an inspiration to him and he was the light of his life. Justin’s friends and family never doubted how safe and valued they were in Justin’s heart. He was especially driven by a sense of duty to his mother and did all he could to support her. Not only was Justin a good friend to others, he allowed himself the gift of being cared for by those who loved him best. He understood that his own spirit’s ability to persevere was largely fueled by the love and support of his friends and family. He was wise in turning into their hearts for safe harbor in life’s storms.
Justin honorably worked for Dean’s Electric in Elkhart while feeling strongly that there absolutely had to be more to life than just work. He struggled in his efforts to fully understand his purpose in life. Despite the confusion and discomfort this struggle resulted in, Justin maintained a sense of humor. He never grew tired of messing with people with his famous “innocent” grin and standard, “I don’t know,” replies. Inspired by a particularly difficult life challenge, Justin began attending New Life Church in Goshen and reading God’s word. In exploring his faith he soon found himself inspired and organized. He was recently baptized and found much focus and motivation in the following verse: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness...Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” Titus 2:2 & 6.
It is fitting that this heart-centered, service oriented, generous man even in death continued to give to others. It is with his, and his family’s, generous organ donations that others have been given the priceless gift of life.
Justin’s family and treasured friends will easily recognize his gifts in the way he taught them to treasure their relationships, share life’s trials and triumphs with each other, enjoy a challenging game, embrace a difficult climb, delight in an enticing recipe, and explore their purpose through faith. For it is in these everyday things that Justin’s legacy will live on in each of their hearts and lives.
Justin Lewis “Dean” Dean, age 21, of Elkhart, died at 12:18 pm, Friday, February 3, 2017, in South Bend Memorial Hospital, from injuries received in a tragic car accident Thursday evening. Carrying his legacy forth are his son, Keegan Hamilton, Elkhart; father and stepmother, Frank and Amy Dean, Elkhart; mother, Donna Logan, Nappanee; grandmothers, Emily Kuhn, Cromwell, Sally Loya, Collins, MS; grandfather, Frank Dean, Arroygrande, CA; siblings, Megan Marie Dean, Elkhart, Race Bridenstine, Nappanee, Morgan Landis, Goshen, and Colton Holloman, Elkhart.
Family and friends may call from 4-8, Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at Thompson-Lengacher & Yoder Funeral Home, Nappanee. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 am, Thursday, Feb. 9th at the funeral home. Pastor Steve Holmes, a friend of the family, will officiate. Burial will be in Union Center Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be given to the Justin Dean Memorial Fund.