EDITORIAL: Leah Justice’s legacy will long be appreciated, remembered

Published 12:31 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

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In my years at the Bulletin as editor, I read hundreds of obituaries while getting the paper prepped for printing. People I knew, people I’d heard of, people I didn’t know — they were a daily part of the paper. 

Never did I imagine I’d be reading the obituary of Leah Justice, the Bulletin’s longtime reporter. Her death last week leaves a chasm I feel I can’t cross, close, or see the end of. I still can’t find all the right words to express my sadness at this loss. 

For the past 20-plus years Leah was a presence at the Bulletin. She was the one constant through several editors, owners, publishers, and a revolving door of reporters and freelancers. In today’s newspaper business, that fact speaks volumes. 

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Covering the community that she grew up in, she literally knew everyone. Her phone’s contact list was extraordinary. Her main beat was local government, and she lived for town council and county commission meetings. She also covered crime stories and the court, and she reveled in those juicy details. Her brain was a steel vault of county budget numbers, municipal project dates, and election night statistics.

In addition to writing, she could talk. Whenever her name popped up on my phone, I knew I’d better get comfortable for a long conversation. Wow, did she have some funny stories and the best gossip! All good reporters are good listeners as well. She had an amazing ability to make people comfortable to share with her all sorts of information. 

Leah always assured me that she’d never miss a deadline, and she kept her word no matter her situation or location. She emailed me stories from the doctor’s office, from the hospital, from the beach while on vacation, or from home where she burned the midnight oil. 

She always made sure I had what I needed from her to succeed at my job. Success at my job meant the paper was successful, and a successful paper meant the world to her. 

Her love for writing, it was who she was! Her compassion for her community was evident through so many stories she wrote. Leah’s dedication to the paper was unflagging. She wanted the stories of her community to be told, shared, and to become part of the fabric of this community’s history. 

Contracting Covid a year ago set in motion a chain of events with her underlying health issues, and ultimately her body wore out. Yet, in true form, she was stubborn and feisty to the end, but ever thankful for the community’s support and ever proud of her son, Luke, who hung the moon. (A verifiable fact!)

I think I can speak for all of us in the Bulletin family, we are still in shock. It’s hard to imagine the institution of the Bulletin without its most steady, loyal reporter with the raspy voice, snarky jokes, and baseball cap.

There are no words any of us can say that adequately express what she meant to us personally and professionally. 

There will never be another one like her. She is, and will be, dearly missed. 


Claire Sachse

Columbus, NC