Born on September 22, 1997, Justin grew up in Pipestone, MN, with his mother, Tish Kalla, his father, Steve Rops, and his brothers, Charlie and Will. A talented athlete, Justin actively participated in baseball, football, and basketball from a very young age. The high school gym in Pipestone still proudly displays his remarkable records for pitching in baseball and receiving in football. Yet, Justin’s personal accomplishments were always secondary to his unwavering commitment to being a supportive teammate. His selfless approach elevated the performance of the teams he played for, leaving a lasting impact.
Following his high school days, Justin discovered a passion for golf and embraced the opportunity to play with his loved ones whenever it arose. In addition to sports, he had a deep fondness for mathematics and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of sports statistics. Justin’s family affectionately referred to him as a “mathemagician,” half-jokingly predicting a future career for him as a sports analyst on ESPN. Whether watching sports on TV or experiencing them firsthand, Justin found great joy, especially when cheering on his beloved Baltimore Ravens.
Justin’s exceptional qualities extended beyond the realm of sports. He was a devoted brother and a cherished friend, known for bidding farewell with the words, “Peace. Love you.” Justin had an innate ability to express his affection through warm, heartfelt hugs, generously sharing them with those he held dear. Furthermore, fate smiled upon him when he encountered his best friend and soulmate, Laura Rudie. Their paths intertwined while working at a school for students with intense behaviors. Together, they embarked on countless adventures, with the Black Hills holding a special place in their hearts. Family and friends were integral to Justin and Laura’s bond, as they relished the moments spent in each other’s company.
Tragically, Justin’s aspirations to grow old with Laura were shattered. On the night of November 16th, 2022, he succumbed to the grip of his inner “demons,” falling victim to fentanyl poisoning. The void left by his untimely departure cannot be adequately described with mere words. We yearn for the chance to embrace him one more time, to feel the warmth of his hug enveloping us. Rest in peace, dear Justin.