DONNA Anderson spent yesterday planning her son Justin’s funeral. It was the day she should have been celebrating his birthday.
Justin Anderson and his friend Daniel Mann, both from Redbank Plains, were thrown into Wivenhoe Dam when a wave hit their canoe during a fishing trip on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
Mr Mann, 27, was rescued the next morning after he swam to the dam’s eastern bank and spent the night under a makeshift shelter.
After a massive search by police, SES volunteers and Seqwater staff, Justin’s body was found floating in the dam nine days later.
For Mrs Anderson and her family, it gave them some closure but nothing could put an end to their terrible grief.
“I really just want to thank all the searchers and the police for finding him,” she said this week.
Donna Anderson says she doesn’t want people to pity her but, sadly, she is no stranger to tragedy.
In 1986, her sister Sharron Phillips went missing after her car ran out of petrol near Wacol railway station.
Sharron Phillips has not been heard from since and her body has never been found.
Then two years ago, Mrs Anderson’s husband Jim died. She said Justin became the man of the house after his dad passed away.
Today, she will lay to rest her “beautiful son” Justin at a service surrounded by her three sons, other family and friends.
Donna Anderson says she will never get over the loss of her husband and son but takes great comfort in knowing they are together again.
She believes she has been “divinely blessed to have five wonderful men in her life, who she loves deeply with all her being and all her heart and spirit”.
Born on June 30, 1983, Justin Anderson, called Jus, or Jussy by his family and friends, had a smile that could “light up a room”.
“Everyone who knew or met Justin couldn’t help but love or at the least like him,” Mrs Anderson said.
“His smile, his happy nature and his beautiful spirit endeared him to all. Justin loved his brother’s partners and girlfriends, accepting them into the family warmly. He loved children especially his only niece Hayley, calling her princess.”
She said Justin was also an animal lover, especially to his 14-year-old Labrador called Jake.
“It was the highlight of Jake’s day when Justin got home from work. Justin showered Jake with love and attention,” she said.
“In Justin’s short but wonderful life, he had touched many people’s hearts. He was a great friend, workmate, wonderful uncle, brother, grandson and above all son.
“Justin had a lot of friends, his closest and dearest friend being Ryan Leo. Also Daniel Mann, or Fuzz to Juss.”
Mrs Anderson said that Justin, as with his brothers, Jamie, Jeremy and Jesse, was a great source of love, joy and pride to not only his parents but also his grandparents Patricia and Douglas Anderson.
Justin went to Redbank Plains Primary and Redbank Plains High schools and he and Jamie worked at McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.
After he finished school Justin became an apprentice motor mechanic and worked in Brisbane for about eight years.
“After the loss of his father, Justin took it upon himself to complete the many projects his dad had started,” his mum said.
“Justin being the eldest son still at home, had become the man of the house. He was a great comfort to me and, like his brothers, although they were overwhelmed with grief themselves, supported me and each other.
“Nothing was too much trouble where his family were concerned.”
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