Max E. Justice

  • "I read about Max's passing in the recent North Carolina Bar..."
    - Howard Grubbs
  • "I didn't know about Max's passing until I read about it..."
    - Phil Lambeth
  • "I'm sorry for your loss. I too graduated from UNC, class of..."
    - David Benbow
  • "I am so sorry to hear about Max's passing. He was one of my..."
    - Beth Lanham
  • "We will miss you cousin . You were one in a million ."
    - David Justice
Service Information
Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service
1321 Berkeley Ave.
Charlotte, NC
Celebration of Life
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020
11:00 AM
Myers Park Baptist Church

Max Justice passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 31, 2020. If ever someone lived up to the expression "larger than life," it was him. Max would have been 75 on Feb. 11.

Max never missed one of his kids' ballgames, and he never slighted a client. At Christmas, he'd make everyone watch "Christmas Vacation" and laugh like he'd never seen it before. Daily he read articles of interest from his beloved Wall Street Journal to his wife, Karen, emailing them along to family, friends and clients.

How he lived for his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. And his clients, most of whom became good and lifelong friends. Also his "four-leggeds." Asked how much Zeke, their standard poodle, meant to him, Karen points to the painting above the mantle. It's Zeke, not me, she says smiling as she points.

Max was born and raised in Hendersonville, N.C., the son of Ernest and Louise Justice. His dad was off in Europe fighting World War II when Max was born. Once home from the war, his father worked in a textile mill and their apple orchard, his mother in a grade school cafeteria. Growing up, Max embraced their passion for work, a passion that never waned. He was an upholsterer's helper at age 12, worked for an uncle in plumbing, and picked apples and tomatoes at harvest time. The seed for his love of the law was also planted early: His maternal grandfather worked in law enforcement, giving Max a chance to roam the courthouse and jail, getting to know the judges and court officials.

How Max loved to learn. In high school, he may have been the only student to subscribe to Newsweek. He once read his family's entire set of encyclopedias. This love of reading and learning was sustained throughout his life.

Max graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1967 with a B.A. in political science. He spent his college summers selling dictionaries throughout the Deep South to put himself through school. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, he went door-to-door in Alabama, braving the violence raging over civil rights. After graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1970 (serving as associate editor of the Law Review), he joined the Charlotte law firm of what was then Grier, Parker and Poe, now Parker Poe - and never left. Here is where he put down his professional roots, learning the practice of law as he developed a niche in the newly emerging environmental arena. He was a critical component in its development and growth, for which he received multiple honors for his environmental law work. Max was an active member of the Carolinas Air Pollution Control Association, serving on its board and as a past-president. He was admitted and qualified as an Attorney and Chancellor of the Supreme Court of the United States... the accolades go on and on.

His zest for the law and children led him to serve in the founding of the Guardian ad Litem program in Charlotte. Still flourishing, it recruits volunteer advocates to come alongside abused and neglected children who wind up in the court system.

Though his blood was Carolina Blue, he was devoted to Wake Forest School of Law. He served for many years as a member of the Law Alumni Council and the Law Board of Visitors.

Max worked seven days a week and loved it. But if his family needed him, he was there, if on the fly. He'd say to Karen, "Just one more minute..." as she waited by the door. Working on this obituary, she mused aloud, if only she could have all those minutes with him now.

Max is survived by his beloved wife of 36 1/2 years, Karen; two children - James Justice and his wife, Robyn, of Mooresville and Catherine Luckadoo and her husband, Cliff, of Matthews; sister-in-law Libby Pennington and her husband, Gary, of Burlington; sister Joy Waldrop and her husband, Kenny, of Bedford, Tex.; five nephews and nieces - Elizabeth Pennington, Max Pennington and his wife, Emmalyn, and Matthew, Patrick and Bethany Barton. His four grandchildren meant everything to him - Parker and Brady Justice, and Jackson and Grace Luckadoo.

The family agreed, with smiles all around, that Max would want his "girls," Olive and Bubbles, listed here too. In addition to his love of their "four-legged" family members, Max supported Karen in founding Companion Parrots Re-homed, a nonprofit parrot welfare organization. He shared his home with many feathered family members, as well as Izzy, their neighborhood raccoon.

A service to celebrate Max's life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Road. A reception follows at Burwell Hall on the campus of Queens University, across from the church.

Rather than flowers, a gift in Max's memory may be made to Humane Society of Charlotte, 2700 Toomey Ave., Charlotte, N.C. 28203, or to a . If you cared, he cared.

The memories that outlive him...

Most everyone called him Justice, a term of endearment. But everyone couldn't help but chuckle at how appropriate his name, Max Justice, was in his profession. Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" was his anthem. When a friend or loved one said something he didn't exactly agree with, his pet response was, "Now let me get this straight..." Max was a big talker and everything that came out of his mouth was gospel, at least according to him. His Christian faith was important, especially in the later years when he overcame prostate cancer and a stroke, "an event", as he insisted on calling it.

Max lost his battle with well-concealed depression by it taking his life. The family shares this in hopes it stirs others to share their mental health challenges and seek help. It is a crisis in our times, one that needs to be brought out of the shadows.

Max Justice gave love and received love in abundance. This will be his greatest legacy.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at


Published in Charlotte Observer from Feb. 5 to Feb. 6, 2020
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