UA mourns loss of student after fatal car accident

Mark Hammontree

Juston Martin will always be remembered for the ever-present smile he shined at anyone and everyone he met.

Martin passed away the morning of Saturday, Feb. 2, from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 65 near Millbrook, Ala. He was 22 years old.

Martin, a senior from Montgomery majoring in business management, was an airman in the United States Air Force and a full-time student.

He was a student worker at The University of Alabama department of veteran and military affairs, where he interacted with students and families on a daily basis.

“Every day, he’d come into the office with a smile on his face, and that was the thing he was notorious for, I would say,” Alex Karagas, assistant director of veteran and military affairs, said. “The angriest parents, or no matter what kind of mood you were in, his smile would really light up the entire office and change everyone’s perspectives on why they came into the office in the first place.”

Martin’s friends knew him for his kindness and energy, as well as his thoughtfulness. In addition to his military service and academic work, Martin was also a published poet.

“He always had a way of speaking that was extremely eloquent,” Karagas said. “It’s almost like he had his own language, but you knew exactly what he wanted to say.”

Candace Lamberto, a senior majoring in management, became close friends with Martin after working with him in the office of veteran and military affairs.

“He was a great person to just be able to sit down and talk to,” Lamberto said. “He was always charismatic when he came into the office, and he always did what he had to do.”

Martin was laid to rest with full military honors in Mary Magdalene Cemetery in Shorter, Ala., after funeral services were held at noon at Hutchison Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery.

“We mourn the loss of Juston Martin, and our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Tim Hebson, dean of students, said in a statement. “His presence as a part of the UA community will certainly be missed.”

Lamberto said Martin always knew how to cheer people up, and anyone who met him felt better in his presence.

“Every morning, even if I was having the worst morning ever, I would see him walk in, dressed very professionally all the time – had all of his stuff together – and would just say, ‘Hello. How’s it going? How are you today, Miss Candace?’” Lamberto said. “That was [the] thing I loved most about him; [it] was that the littlest thing he said could make someone’s day. He touched a lot of people’s hearts just by smiling at them and saying good morning.”

Karagas said everyone who knew Martin is a better person from having known him.

“He never had a bad day, it seems like – he was always unwavering, and with that smile on his face, he would always ensure that everyone felt like they were special,” Karagas said. “One thing that other students have said is that they felt like they were better persons from being around him because he brought so much energy to our office by providing that kind of comfort zone to everybody.”