OXFORD, Mich. (FOX 2) - The funeral for Justin Shilling, the 17-year-old who died a day after a shooter opened fire inside Oxford High School last week, took place Thursday and his family requested a stream be made available for the community to watch.
At the family's request, Justin's funeral was streamed due to Covid concerns in our community.
Justin died Wednesday, Dec. 1, one day after the shooting killed three other students inside the school.
A 17-year-old is being remembered as a hero for the life he gave others through organ donation.
Before the funeral service for Justin Shilling began, a quiet moment for members of his bowling and golf team gathered to honor the 17-year-old, and shed tears for their friend and teammate who should still be living.
"For some there might be anger, and the search to understand why Justin had to die so young. There are questions why mostly why," said Father Michael Verschaeve.
Father Michael, who has been there for the family every step of the way, led the somber service at Boulder Pointe Golf Club in Oxford.
Surrounded by images of Justin, those who attended celebrated the life he led. The beloved son and brother who was a kind student and hard worker had a love of all things sports, an eclectic taste in music and endless love for his family.
"I suppose we come in with a range of emotions, where there is love, and also the pain of separation," said Father Michael.
Family, friends, and members of this tight-knit Oxford community are still trying to process this senseless shooting that stole the lives of four students and injured several others.
With their pain, came a bit of comfort. Funeral director Matt Smith acknowledged the heroes from the fateful day - everyone from law enforcement to first responders - but highlighted the greatest hero - Justin - who gave the gift of life by donating his organs.
"Imagine you getting that news and that doctor or surgeon walking in and say we have a hero and he came to save you," Smith said. "Justin is that hero - he has given so much."
Below is Justin's obituary, courtesy of the Veryheyden Funeral Homes, who ws described as a natural athlete who loved sports and received excellent grades in school:
Justin Charles Shilling was born in St John's Hospital Macomb to parents Jill Soave and Craig Shilling on April 18, 2004. Justin passed away on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, at McLaren Oakland Hospital.
Justin and his family lived in Marine City for his first 6 years where he was a big fan of the beach and attended Bell River Elementary School. A move to Ortonville in 2010 brought Justin to the Oxford School District community where he attended Daniel Axford Elementary School, Oxford Elementary School, Oxford Middle School and finally Oxford High School. Justin was always an avid student who received excellent grades and was a Joy to have in the classroom. He ran and served on the student council in middle school and made a bid for student council president in his freshmen year of high school. He was a Baccalaureate and a Web leader who served as a mentor to the freshman students starting high school this year.
Oxford High School shooting victim Justin Shilling, 17, died Wednesday, Dec. 1, one day after being shot by a gunman inside the school.
Justin loved the Village of Oxford and all things Detroit, walking the Polly Ann trail and picking up subway or frosty boy. He would ride his bike to his first job at the local Thai restaurant where he started to develop his palate. Justin gained experience while he worked the register, manned the phones, taking orders, making Hors D' oeuvres and serving customers and all of this at the tender age of thirteen. The next lucky group to partake of Justin's glowing presence and agreeable nature was Independence Village, a senior living facility located within the Waterstone Community. This is where he honed his skills of patience, kindness and being present, caring for the seniors either delivering their meals to their rooms or serving them in the dining hall, engaging them in conversation and making many friends. To say Justin made an impression would be vastly understating his role as friend and companion to the seniors and staff. Justin then briefly worked at Victoria's Wine and Dine of downtown Oxford before moving on again to Lelli's of Pontiac, an upscale steakhouse with a rich history in our community. From there he added Anita's Kitchen of Lake Orion to his job list, for a taste of the Middle East, and the iconic Redd Knapp's Dairy Bar of Rochester because he truly covered all his bases, and no palate is complete without dessert.
From an early age Justin was a lover of all sports, organized and pickup. A natural athlete, he played Baseball throughout his elementary and middle school years where his coaches and teammates have known him as the heart of the team, cheering them on with a kinetic energy and enthusiasm only Justin could bring. He bowled and golfed with his middle and high school teams as well as being a "Wicked Spike Baller" as described by his older brother and his friends. Justin not only played sports but supported his teams vigorously. He loved going to school football games, making it to most games especially this, his senior year, and cheering the wildcats on every chance he got. He was an avid fan of U of M football and followed his favorite team with great, great pride in its wins and tremendous disappointment in its losses, his passion for competition was impressive.
Family was the foundation that made Justin a superstar, he always made time for his family. In an age where family's get very complicated Justin somehow made every member of his extremely vast immediate and extended family members know they were very special to him, from his birth Grandparents all the way to his youngest step cousins. Justin's capacity for family love was so huge that he made "family" out of his best friends and their families, perpetuating such a sense of love and togetherness that we are all humbled by it. Justin shared a very meaningful relationship with a longtime girlfriend showering her with attention and basking in the experience of young love. Justin was always very proud of his family's background in military, police, and firefighting. He loved and admired his older brother and competed with him fiercely, Nathan always set the bar very high. Justin was a doting big brother who was always looking out for his younger brother helping him to navigate the difficult first year of high school, encouraging him and being an example of selflessness and support. Although both Nathan and Clay will suffer dearly for the loss of their brother they share the same strength, bright light and energy and they will carry his torch eternally.
Justin loved music, all music from Sinatra to Cash and Eminem to Tupac. His favorite TV show was "The Office", he was a marvel movie buff and an avid video game enthusiast. He loved his aquarium and enjoyed adding fish to it, planning someday to have one on every wall of his room. He was a snappy dresser with an affinity for unique socks and really cool shoes. Justin was a classy guy who loved to go out on the town to shows with his mom and also go out to the woods hunting and fishing with his dad. Spending time outdoors was very important to him, one of their favorite and most frequented spots was Lakeport State Park on Lake Huron searching for Petosky stones. He would commonly go out to the woods to lie in a hammock, commune with nature and appreciate its beauty. He dreamed about someday owning a Mustang GT, flipping houses with his friends, and getting the college experience. Justin simply can't be described here adequately as there isn't enough room on this page.
It could be said that Justin burned brighter and exuded more energy than the average person, fitting a vast amount of love and experiences into his short life. He touched so many people, from family to neighbors, classmates and friends and has left his mark eternally in all of our souls.
Justin was the loving son of Jill Soave and Craig (Lynda Rusu) Shilling. Beloved brother of Nathan Shilling, Clay Shilling, Derek Rusu, and Amber Rusu. Dear grandson of Michael (Donna) Soave, Judy Kay (Jeff) Otto, Chuck and Kathy Shilling, and Chuck and Connie Boudreau. Cherished nephew of Tracy (James) Barkatt, Jennifer McGuffie, Jeremy (Alyssa) Otto, Kevin (Tamara) Shilling, Kimberly Shilling, Curt Shilling, and Janet Stevens. Dearest great-nephew of Anthony (Kathy) Kierzkowski, Lawrence (Linda) Kierzkowski, Thomas Kierzkowski, Cheryl Soave, Patricia (Charles) Notoriano, Kathy (Nelson) Terburgh, Myrna (Tom) Okronley, Patricia (the late James) Baldes, and the late Mike Murphy. Adoring cousin of Jack Skierski, Brenden Skierski, Zoe McGuffie, Logan McGuffie, Arica Dancy, Madeline Shilling, Eleanor Shilling, Ryan Wheeler, Casey Wheeler, David Kierzkowski, James Kierzkowski, Lisa Kierzkowski, James (Angela) Osborn, Joseph (Teresa) Kierzkowski, Steven (Marley) Kierzkowski, Alexis Malyska, Nicholas (Jewel) Notoriano, Natalie Notoriano, Nelso Terburgh, Ann Solovey, Bill Okronley, Bob Okronley, Suzie Gato, James Baldes, and Jackie Merlone.
Visitation for Justin will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2021, from 12 noon until the time of his Funeral Service at 7pm at Boulder Pointe Golf Club & Banquet Center, 1 Champions Circle, Oxford, MI 48317. Visitation will also take place Friday, December 10, 2021, from 12 noon to 8pm at Chas. Verheyden, Inc., 43300 Garfield Road, Clinton Township, MI 48038. A private burial will take place at The Preserve at All Saints Cemetery in Waterford Township, MI.
In keeping with Justin's legacy of being a hero as he donated his organs to Gift of Life saving a vast amount of people, we ask that if you have been exposed to COVID or are feeling ill, to please stay home. In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Justin's funeral on Thursday evening will be live-streamed on all local Detroit media outlets at ClickOnDetroit.com, WXYZ.com/live3, and the WXYZ Detroit Facebook page Fox2detroit.com to protect the safety of our communities.
Please share your memories of Justin at Verheyden.org