Justin D. Valdivia passed on from this life on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at age 46.
He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and he liked to remind you of that as often as possible. Justin spent most of his adult life in Portland, Oregon, and enjoyed the surrounding mountains, rivers, and ocean, but he loved the desert the most.
Justin’s grandmother once told him that he was the most special, handsome boy. He embraced this declaration and allowed it to propel him through life, for better or for worse. He had a knack for convincing others it was true, too, including myself, his wife.
A lifelong musician and writer, Justin was a storyteller through and through. He would happily tell you the same story over and over, in fact, whether you wanted to hear it or not.
One of his favorite pieces of writing was Patti Smith’s essay about her friendship with the late playwright Sam Shepard. It begins:
“He would call me late in the night from somewhere on the road, a ghost town in Texas, a rest stop near Pittsburgh, or from Santa Fe, where he was parked in the desert, listening to the coyotes howling.”
Justin cherished having the kind of friends he could call at any hour (you know who you are). His friends were his chosen family. Even if he never told you so, trust that he loved you fiercely. (We’ve been talking about this too long.)
Being born a Valdivia shaped Justin’s formative years and beyond. He credited his family with his intelligence and movie-star good looks, his love of music, and his fondness for busting balls (his words, not mine) and obnoxious pranks (my words, not his) bestowed on any poor, unsuspecting sap (me).
But above all, he was proudest of being Daniel’s father. He spoke daily of the profound way it changed him and gave meaning to his life.
Justin loved to laugh and make others laugh, and was willing to do almost anything to reap that reward.
He believed in quietly donating to charity, and giving surprise gifts for no special reason. In hanging Christmas lights on neighbors’ houses. In stopping to help people with car trouble on the side of the road. And in standing up to injustice and for the people he loved.
He hoarded candy and ate too much junk food. He refused to throw leftovers away. He never met a dog he didn’t like.
Left with memories and stories to last for years (even if it’s because we’re telling the good ones over and over as he would have done), are his son Daniel Valdivia, wife Naomi Valdivia, mother Susan McArthur, sisters Raquell Duff and Amelia Valdivia Lovatt, and Justin’s many beloved Valdivia uncles, aunts, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, Justin would have wanted you to take a friend or cousin out for lunch. Talk their ear off. Pretend you have the answers. Give them a hug. Tell them you love them.
The funeral service to honor Justin’s life will be held Monday, September 26, 2022 at 10:00am at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix with burial to follow at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, 2033 N 48th St, Phoenix.
I remember Justin when he was growing up. We took many family vacations together with Justin’s grandpa McArthur. He was very close to his Grampa and could thank him for teaching him to snow ski and water ski . And showing him many sights and making memories in the family RV . I remember Justin always making everyone laugh and telling exaggerated stories about his adventures. He also was very sweet to his Grandma McArthur and called her often to chat. Although, I had a strained relationship with Justin the last couple of years, I will always love him and cherish the many family memories we share.
Justin. I loved you and my heart breaks for the loss of you. But I can’t go through the stories. They are all in my heart good and bad. They belong to me you, Joe, Abie, that’s the short list and we all loved you. I just can’t do the stories Justin they belong to all the others as well as you and I. Just know I will miss you and you will always be in my heart.
Toward another He has gone. To breathe the air Beyond his own.
Towards a wisdom Beyond the self. Toward a dream That dreams itself.
About a boy Beyond it all About a boy Beyond it all.
From the forest From the foam.From the field That he had known.
Toward a river Twice as blessed. Towards the inn of happiness.
About a boy Beyond it all. About a boy Beyond it all.
From a chaos Raging sweet From the deep And dismal street.
Toward another land of peace. Toward the great Emptiness.
I stood among them
I stood alone
Boy Boy just a boy.Just a little boy. Just a little boy.
Who will never grow.
RIP Justin, always a little boy to me. With great sadness from myself Jilly and his British family,
His sister Amelia, his nephews Roux, Rocco and Redd. Never to be forgotten.
Susie duff McArthur
Unfortunately Justin and I didn’t always get along. And we hadn’t seen each other for about a year. However, we spoke on the phone every few months to catch up and talk about any family drama [Justin loved gossip!} We also bonded over our shared political views, music and humor. in fact, no one could make me laugh harder than Justin ! Despite our differences, I wanted nothing more than for him to be happy and content so its especially tragic that his life was cut so short after falling in love and marrying Naomi She seems to be a very kind and loving person who loved and cared for Justin very much. Of course, I will always love and cherish all the wonderful memories of Justin as a child growing up. I prefer to keep them to my self. I love you son more than you will ever know. And I will miss you forever.
Abie Rose Lee
Oh Justin. So much to say. I never ever thought I would be lamenting your memory like this. You were definitely one-of-a-kind. You really had a way of seducing people with your intelligence and your smile. Having known you for 25 years, I feel compelled to share some more memories of you.
You loved the arts…television, movies, music, books…you loved it all and devoured as much of it as you could. You had an amazing memory and the ability to recite verbatim much of the things you watched and read.
Some of your favorite movies included Braveheart and A Bronx Tale and I believe we listened to Sublime’s 40oz. To Freedom all day, every day, for an entire summer
You loved to reminisce about your childhood in Phoenix, Arizona…your friends…the “nabe” as you called the neighborhood where you grew up.
You always found something good in everyone. You loved the idea of true love…to be truly happy and content. You loved to make people laugh. You loved the English language and you definitely had a way with words.
I believe that music was one of your greatest loves. You were passionate about playing the drums. I will never forget the time we got to hang out with Mudhoney, after their show! Or doing karaoke in Grant’s Pass…when you insisted on singing “Old Time Rick & Roll” but you didn’t just sing it…no no, you had to recreate the scene from Risky Business…boxer shorts, knee slide and all Epic memories.
I wish you were here so that I could tell you that you are so loved…even by those of us who you were not on the best of terms with. You would be so happy that Raquel and I talk much more often now. She loves you too. Life is so short but I feel the world was robbed a little when you left. It just feels like you had so much more to do.
I wish I could drink a Guinness with you and eat some chili mac and recite our favorite lines from Chris Rock or Dennis Miller’s stand-up. But I can’t. All I have is memories…and now that you’re gone, even the good ones are a bit painful now. But I know you wouldn’t want anyone to be sad so I’ll do my best to only remember the good times, however painful they may now be.
There’s so much more to say but I’ll end it with simply saying you were loved and you are missed.
Oh Justin. My big brother. You were a larger than life person. Although we lost contact with each other years ago, that doesn’t change how much I loved you and will always love you. You will always be my big brother. I know life was difficult for us with our mother growing up, but you always took care of me and looked out for me my well being. You were more like a father figure to me and was more of a dad to me than my biological father. I always looked up to you and loved to learn from you on different topics. You and I both had a huge love for music, movies and comedies. We really were made from the same cloth. The memories I have of you will remain in my heart and mind forever. You’ll never be forgotten. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Summer Pickel (Smith)
Justin was friends with my brother, Sam Smith, as a young kid. They played soccer together. We ran around briefly in high school together, when he was playing in a band called, Leftoverz. I ran into him once after high school, then we caught up a few times over the last few years. Justin was always exactly who you saw. He was going rant and talk endlessly but seemingly about nothing. I will miss him.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.