Justin Christopher Hart-Prather

  • Died: January 12, 2011
  • Location: Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln Land Cremation Society

917 S. 7th Street
Springfield, IL 62703

Tel. (217) 523-4646

Tribute & Message From The Family

Justin Christopher Hart-Prather, 34, of Springfield, died at 7:19 a.m. on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at Memorial Medical Center.

Justin was born February 18, 1976 in Decatur, the son of Christopher and Pamela Sutton Hart. He married Valerie Baker on October 18. 2003 at The Beach House.

Justin was employed by Above and Beyond Cleaning Service. He liked to spend time with his family, especially building things with his daughter, Anastasia and he will be missed greatly by everyone who knew him

He was preceded in death by his father.

He is survived by his wife, Valerie Prather of Springfield; daughter, Anastasia Prather at home; mother, Pamela Sutton of Springfield; sister, Tara (husband, John) Southard of Chatham and two nieces.

Cremation was accorded by Butler Cremation Tribute Center prior to ceremonies.

A memorial ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist, 745 Woodside Rd., Springfield on Saturday, January 15, 2010 with Rev. Bob Wilson officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Kidney Transplant Foundation, 701 N. 1st St., Box 87, Springfield, IL 62781.


Condolence & Memory Journal


Here is a candle for you on your Birthday my love. I wish that I could be handing you a gift instead I took Anastasia to your favorite restaurant tonight. We ate good food and I tried to share some memories with her. I wish you could have been there with us to eat Walt's Favorite shrimp and laugh with us. We miss you very much and love you forever.

Posted by Valerie - Springfield, IL - wife   February 19, 2012

Justin I can't believe that a year has passed, that just doesn't seem possible. :( I was thinking on New Years Day this year, that is the last time I saw you last year, and got my big tight hug that nearly crushed me everytime!
Certainly has been 1 hard year, but will always try my best to help out Valerie & Anastasia. I believe that you are up there somewhere with the moon & the stars, a few of your favorite things, looking down on us & you'll be forever in our hearts!


Posted by Danielle - Walnut, IL - Friend   January 12, 2012

Happy Anniversary Justin, wherever you may be...
You are in our hearts, that's for sure!

Also during this Halloween time, I remembered when you, Valerie & I went to that Jaycee's Haunted House...
Fun times! Was just thinking about Goth Raggedy Ann as well & will forever LOL!


Posted by Danielle - Walnut, IL - friend   October 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary my love. I have been missing you since the day you left this world for the next, but never so much as right now. I look back across eight years of time and remember one of the happiest days of my life. You had a vision of how our wedding day should look and you made it happen. Funny how that occurred when at first you didn't want to get married. A piece of paper meant nothing to you. I think you finally understood that the piece of paper had nothing to do with wanting to marry you. It was standing up in front of our family and friends and letting them know that we had found each other and wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, no matter how long that was to be. You are my light and my rock Justin and you always will be, no matter where this road takes me a great part of my heart will belong to you forever. I went to the Beach House today and sat outside it, I remembered all I could about that day and I smiled and cried. I wish I could back there and do it all again, even knowing how it all would end. "Desperate for changing starving for truth I am closer to where I started chasing after you I am falling even more in love with you letting go of all of held on to I'm standing here until you make me move I'm hanging by a moment here with you, forgetting all I'm lacking completely incomplete, I'll take your invitation you take all of me, Living for the only thing I know running not where sure where to go and I don't know what I m diving into hanging by a moment here with you, There is nothing else to lose, nothing eld to find nothing in the world that could change my mind. " (LifeHouse) I love you Justin

Posted by Valerie Prather - Springfield, IL - wife   October 18, 2011

Also just wanted to say that it's comforting to see Eric driving around your Black Saturn because when I see it, I think of you, and the time you were following me in it LOL, so it seems you are still following me!
Also getting out my Halloween decorations today & remembering that was one of your favorite things to do was decorate with cobwebs & flashing lights & skeleton heads. Just ran across the picture of you dressed as a Wizard the first year you & Valerie had an apartment.

Miss you my friend!

Posted by Danielle - Walnut, IL - friend   October 04, 2011

was thinking about you a few weeks ago on Valerie & Jean's birthday & remembering that was the first time I met you, at their birthday party 11 years ago maybe? You brought Valerie flowers for her birthday, not realizing it was also Jean's! You were actually very quiet, probably because you were meeting some new people but who knew behind that was someone who wasn't really that quiet LOL
Love you & miss you my friend, and think of you all the time, and especially when I visit Valerie & Anastasia, keep thinking you'll come in the room & jab me or something...


Posted by Danielle - Walnut, IL - friend   September 25, 2011

Hey Kiddo,

I can't seem to get you off my mind and out of my head the past couple of weeks. I figured it was a sign that I needed to drop in and send some love to your memory.

I'm excited to say that I feel as though I have a much better understanding of the amazing mind your body housed. I have stumbled upon a few books, two of which I'm currently reading and almost finished with which I'm sure you already know this considering the connection I felt with these books when I saw them is unable to be put into words. (Which makes me believe it was a sign from you.)

It feels awesome to be a reader again. To be able to sit with a book and become so enthralled you can't put it down, is an amazing feeling.

I understand now (through the help and explanation in these books) what you meant when you would refer to your Spirit Guide and speak of Angels. I understand what you meant when you would speak of past lives, astral travel, etc. The best part about these books are that they don't step on my toes regarding my faith that is ingrained in me.

Justin, I live each day believing without a doubt that you come back to visit your family often and that you drop by and visit the rest of us too. I believe you are on the other side living it up and in perfect health from head to toe.

I promise from the bottom of my heart that although I am in no hurry to leave my life on this side, I do look forward to the day that I see you on the other side and can give you a big hug, tell you how right you were about many of the things you would try to teach/tell us that we would always think you had lost your mind, and just say thank you. Thank you so much Justin.

Love you forever,

Posted by Rachel - Melbourne, FL - non-biological Sister   August 31, 2011

I heard this poem on a t.v. show and thought of you, so here it is.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.<
William Wordsworth

I miss you so much and I try to find comfort in the life of our Baby Girl, though finding any comfort in your death is extremely difficult. I pray everyday for you to walk through the front door. Even when I think I am doing well the flood gates open and out pours my grief. I will try to find strength and comfort as the days of your passing grow to be more and more, but the difficulty of it often finds me wanting to give up and sleep the eternal sleep. For our Anastasia I will keep going but I long to see and touch your face again. I miss you my love!
Forever yours

Posted by Valerie Prather - Springfield, IL - wife   July 20, 2011

just thinking of you today & wanted to visit your guest book
Miss you,

Posted by Danielle - Walnut, IL - Friend   April 13, 2011


To my Justin on your Birthday,
Though your physical body is no longer here for me to whisper Happy Birthday in your ear, I will still celebrate the life that you lead and the uniqueness that you brought to my life and to the lives of others. There will be some sadness in my celebrating but many smiles as well. You died to young my love but you did your best to live while you were here despite all that life threw at you. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY! my Justin. I will celebrate you forever.
Yours Always,

Posted by Valerie Prather - wife   February 19, 2011

Happy Birthday my dear friend!

Posted by Danielle Wallace - Walnut, IL - Friend   February 19, 2011

Something I heard before that I really liked & just looked it up
William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

"Give me my Romeo, and When He Shall Die, Take Him and Cut Him Out in Little Stars, and He Will Make the Face of Heaven so Fine That All the World Will Be in Love with Night, and Pay No Worship to the Garish Sun"

Posted by Danielle Wallace - Walniut, IL - Friend   February 05, 2011

I think I will come here from time to time & post things that I remember. Things just keep popping into my head - memories or things he said.

One of my favorite stories is when they just bought the black Saturn car & I didn't know their car, and I was on my way to Springfield, and Justin was coming from Peoria, and he recognized my car so he started messing with me by tailgating me no matter how fast or slow I was going, got right beside my car in the other lane. I was so freaked out I pulled off at the next exit & he kept going. When I was almost to Springfield to Jean's apt, I called her & she asked me if there was a black car following me to Springfield & then told me it was Justin! He never let me live that down, said all he wanted me to do was look over at him so he could wave!
He always said what a good friend I was for always coming to visit them, and even came up my way camping last year so I didn't have to travel down there.

Today I was going through my emails & sorting them, and here is one from Justin:

"I know your email now. Don't worry I will not send you anything too dirty. Thank for being a good friend to Val. People will come and go in your life but a true friend will always be there for you. Here is a song hope you don't have it. Good night kpasa."

And the song he had attached was called "Under The Milky Way"

Posted by Danielle Wallace - Walnut, IL - Friend   January 30, 2011

Although I don't remember exactly how I met Justin, it was from inquiring about someone to help move aquariums. May have been the folks from the former Aquariums Unlimited (?) on MacArthur. After helping move the aquariums, I was stricken at how genuine of a person Justin was and asked him if he would be interested in cleaning them regularly. He did so for several years until I moved again and then gave the aquariums to Justin.

Although I was not extremely close to Justin, he left a lasting impression on me and my now-fiance. You don't meet genuine people like Justin too often in life and I am so very sorry to hear that he had to leave his family so soon.

My thoughts are with you. I know you miss this good person in your lives.

Posted by P. Holt - Springfield, IL - Friend   January 24, 2011

Dear Sue,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. What a great young man Justin had become. Reading all of these memories has been great. I do remember when he was born and what a beauitful baby he was and how proud you were of both of your children. You have truly been on my heart and in my prayers and all of your family.

Love & Prayers,

Posted by Cheryl Sutton Snoke - Evansville, IN - Cousin   January 17, 2011

It has been so long since I have seen you or talked with you. It seems everyone goes their seperate ways. You and your family have been on my mind so much. I can't even imagine losing a son. I have been thinking and praying for you and Justin's family. I remember the day he was born. I have a son and the pain of losing him would be something that only God can handle. I know that each day will get better for you, but it takes time. I finally am able to remember the good times with dad and mom, not the sickness, or death. Take care of yourself. Love you, Ginger

Posted by Ginger Weatherford - Naples, FL - cousin   January 17, 2011

words wrapped in tears
Justin will be missed
the cries of the hearts
left-behind, a mist
a dew on the flowers
of hope and memory.

love to
Mom Pamela Sue
Sister Tara (and family)
wife Valerie
daughter Anastasia

Posted by Dan Sutton - North Andover, MA - Uncle   January 17, 2011


Dear Anastasia,

Someday I hope you can read this and understand. You are so special to me and I love you more than words can express. You are an amazing little girl. The best parts of this earth are found within you. I vow to help you know and remember your Dad; even though I think you knew him better than I did. Maybe we can help each other. I'm so glad he knew you and loved you more than life itself. I anticipate the many ways in which you will remind me of your Dad and I smile when I think of all the Lego structures we can build together in his honor. I love you!

Aunt Tara

Posted by Tara Southard - sister/aunt   January 16, 2011


To Justin's Family and Close Friends ... the world has lost a special young man. Today's ceremony was very helpful for me. I was able to learn more about Justin that enables me to now understand how he coped with all his health issues. A wonderful outlook on life! I was inspired by the preacher's words and stories of Justin, the letter Justin wrote, and the memories shared by Valerie and Justin's sister. I'll pray that each day gets a little easier for each of you, and that the fond and crazy memories help you make it through this tough time. When I learned of Justin's passing, I thanked God for allowing Justin's path to cross mine ... I feel very strongly that I was blessed to know just a small part of what Justin was all about. The fond memories I have will help me cope with not seeing him at work ... he always brought a little sunshine to my day.

Posted by Therese - Friend   January 16, 2011


Our prayers and thoughts are with your family. We know no words are enough to erase the pain of your loss. So we offer our kind thoughts and prayers.
We pray the love of God enfolds you during your journey through grief.
We send you thoughts of comfort.

Posted by Ann Harmon - friend   January 15, 2011

May you find peace at this time , Thought and prayers go out to the family and friends ! God Bless all of you .

Posted by Michelle C Holden - Palm bay, FL - Friend of a Friend   January 15, 2011

Justin is someone I will treasure forever. He has always kept me laughing, always picking on me, and joking. He also gave the very best & biggest bear hugs in the world! I had such a great time with him being the master at camping on our camping trips. He came into Valerie's life & I knew how much he loved her & his little girl Anastasia. I am honored to call him a friend FOREVER!

Posted by Danielle Wallace - Walnut, IL - friend   January 15, 2011

John,Tara & Family, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Justin,although I never met him, from the words I've just read from others it sounds like he was quite an amazing young man. I will be praying you draw comfort and strenght in each other. God Bless!

Posted by Edna Luckey Vaughn - Curran, IL - Friend   January 15, 2011


Dear Uncle Justin,
Thank you for the great whirlpools in the summer and fireworks. Thank you for going kite- flying and camping with us. You also made me laugh. One time you scared us by showing up at our house as a girl: Goth Raggedy Ann. You were a very great uncle and will be greatly missed.
- Alyssa

Posted by Alyssa Southard - niece   January 15, 2011


There are people in this world who leave very shallow imprints in one's life. Justin was not one of those; he left a very large imprint in every life he touched. I am proud to be one of those few people that got to be in his life. The one thing that i loved about Justin was that he would tell you exactly what he thought even if you didn't want to hear it. He was the best thing that came into Val's life. He could do pretty much anything he put his mind to and never gave up. I know you are out there Justin just waiting for the right moment to chuck a penny at someone.

Posted by Jean Baylor - sister-in-law   January 15, 2011

To My most amazing husband,

Throughout these short years you have shared your life with me and I must now survive your death. You have made me a strong woman and so survive I will though a piece of my heart will always be marked with a big tatoo that beats a single name, Justin.

I don't think you would be mad at me for what I am about to say and if you are well....as you once told me "why do you care what other people think" Not many people would have voted you man of the year, and many may have cussed your name. You had a sense of humor that made others unsure of whether or not you were joking. But those people don't know what I do. Yes, my love, you could be a jerk. I can see you smiling at that right now. You were never afraid to speak what was on your mind and you frequently did. You didn't care what other people thought, you built that wall high around your heart, but there were windows in that wall and sometimes you would leave them open and let people crawl through. Not many people had the privelege to see every single part of you, I am lucky enough to be in that short list.
You let me into every nook and cranny of your existence, you let me see the world through your eyes, and what crazy and amazing world it is! I didn't always agree with you but that was okay. We didn't have to see eye to eye on every little detail. I let you into my life and you gave me a gift. You made me strong, you gave me confidence in myself, you helped me become the woman I am today. I don't discredit those who also shaped my life but you were the one who just let me be me. You love me as I am and asked nothing from me in return, though I often demanded much of you. I can only hope that I was able to give you everything you needed. I will love you forever. Don't worry about Baby Girl, I won't be as good a teacher as you but I will do my best. Drop by and see us from time to time.Though we no longer have your physical form I know your spirit is out there somewhere.
Oh My Justin I don't what life will be like with out you, but I do know it won't be as interesting without you here.

Posted by Valerie Prather - Springfield, IL - wife   January 15, 2011

Jus, all I can say is WOW!
What an amazing man you grew to become. I have so many crazy but loving memories of you throughout the years that will forever be in my heart.

You were my great debate partner and I am blessed to have the memories of times I was lucky enough to sit and talk with you about your perspective on life, religion, people and nature.

You were always so otherworldly and in so many ways wise beyond your young years. I believe you grew to be that way not only from your childhood experiences but just by patiently sitting back and watching others young and old and how they maneuvered their way around this thing called life.

I believe you are an Aquarius through and through. Your love for nature, your expansive imagination and the yearning to figure out how and why things worked the way they did were such amazing qualities you possessed as well as your ability to feel at great depths for others around you whether you showed it outwardly or not.

Justin, thank you so much for being the little brother I never had while growing up. Thank you for allowing me a peak every now and again into what lie behind that fortress you built around your heart.

To hear of your passing at first I was devastated because you were leaving a wife, child, mother, sister and nieces behind to mourn for you as well as those of us who were blessed to have you in our lives, but the reality of it is, your spirit is now free to explore the constellations, all of the heavens and the earth. Free to find the answers you were seeking all along and you simply have the best of both worlds as you get to still very much be a part of the life you left behind as you watch over those you love until you meet again.

I love that you passed on your organs to those in need to give others a second chance at life just as you were granted not so long ago.

You are an amazing soul and I can't wait for the day to sit down and talk with you again. Listen as you take the time to tell me all about your newest discoveries and what you found to be real and false.

I love you Jus and Tim and I are just so very sad that we won't see you again on this side. You will always be thought of and loved just as you were when you were here with us.

I can't imagine how it feels to lose a child in way that you will not see them again until the day you permanently close your eyes to this world, but I do understand the pain and hurt you feel in your heart the day your child is no longer in your arms or an every day part of your life.
You were there for me during those days and you comforted me with a love and acceptance rather than judgment that only a Mother can understand. I love you so much for always being there for me regardless if you approved of my choices at the time or not.

You are an amazing woman who gave life and raised up two of the most wonderful people I have ever known. Tara and Justin both have positively impacted the lives of so many people and if not for you we would have never had the opportunity to share our lives with them.

You were my second Mom. The Mom I could come to and talk with about anything and you always tried to guide me in the right way. For that I will forever love you as my own.

My heart breaks for you. The pain in your voice the day we spoke and you told me of Justin's passing keeps playing through my mind like a recording and I can't turn it off. I keep retracing our conversation trying to find a way to have better handled the news and I just wish there were so much more I could have said to comfort you in a way you needed, but the reality of it is, I don't know how to properly handle times such as these.
I want so badly to be there with you and your family during this time of sadness because you have been with me through every important moment in my life. I feel as though not being there is somehow failing you and our friendship.
Please know that I love you more than life as I always have. You are not only my dearest friend but you are my BFF eternity and nothing will ever change those feelings in me.

I am praying for strength for you and your family during this time and peace as you try to manage your days forward with heartfelt thoughts of something missing in your life.

Time heals all wounds and God is now and will forever be your great comforter.

Valerie, I am can't imagine what you are going through. I have had the honor of meeting you though and know that you are a very strong woman with an intelligent mind. You're a great Mom and I know that you will do whatever it takes to keep Justin alive in you and Anastasia's lives. May you be comforted in the peace of knowing that Justin is still with you only now not trapped within a broken body that wasn't serving him well.

I know that the two of you loved each very much and that love will carry you through until you embrace each other again. Much love to you and your baby girl. May the road ahead become easier to travel each day you walk the path through life.

A wise woman once shared her words of encouragement with me during a time I needed them most. I have cherished them since the day I read them the first time. I hope it's okay to share them with her and her loved ones.

Life Goes On
I understand,
more than you think I can,
your disappointments and your pain.
My circumstances are different,
but the heartache is the same.
When the hurt you feel, clouds your smile:
I want to reassure you, it does get easier after a while.
Life goes on;
and so should we.
Who knows,
maybe the best is yet to be.

Pamela Sue Prather 03/1990

Posted by Rachel Walls Titus - Melbourne, FL - Family Friend   January 14, 2011

Varlerie &Anastasia,
You have our deepest sympathy at this difficult time. We will miss Justin coming into the bank with Anatasia. We all here will keep you in our thoughts.

Posted by Town&Country Bank/Ash & McArthur - Springfield, IL - new him from coming into bank   January 14, 2011

Dear Sue,

I'm sorry I did not have the opportunity of meeting and knowing your son, Justin. I have grown to love and appreciate you since we got acquainted during the process of losing our Aunt Mil last May. My heart goes out to you and all of those who loved Justin and are hurting so deeply. My prayer is that those angels, and the God who sent them, who have always been there to comfort and protect you during your life will be there for you through this time.

I also pray for the Lord to be very near his wife Valerie and their precious little daughter as well as his sister, Tara, and her family.

Family and friends are comforters but God is our ultimate comforter, through Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

Posted by Bernadine Stoneburner - Cowden, IL - Cousin   January 14, 2011

Dear Valerie-
Justin and you were among a special group of "kids" whom I have always remembered from my Aquaria Unlimited years. He was such a sweet guy in his own way. He was such a good worker; so neat and clean and willing to go the extra mile to help us. I thought of him as more like a son than and employee. He went through some tough times but always worked them out and had a ready smile.
I was so happy he found you Valerie. I knew then, he would have a good life in a real home situation. I'm so glad he got to be a Dad. Anastasia is such a sweet girl and he was so proud of her.

I'm proud of you ,Valerie, for working so hard to get an education so you can provide for Anastasia and yourself. I know it is a struggle now but in the long run it will pay off. My heart goes out to you and all the family. Justin will be sooooo missed. He was a unique , one of a kind fellow, that we all loved.

Posted by Kris Tipps - Springfield, IL - Friend   January 14, 2011


Dear Valerie and Anastasia,

I can't begin to tell you how saddened we all were at IEMA and STIC to learn of Justin's passing. He was more than just a contract worker who came in a few hours a day, he was our friend! We thought of him as family!

I was very close to Justin, and he would talk often of you and Anastasia. He loved you both so much. Anastasia was his pride and joy, and he would so often tell me things that he and his "baby girl" would do. We all feel like you and Anastasia are our family too, because he's told us so much about you both.

I, especially, will NEVER forget Justin, not only because of our close working relationship, but more importantly, because he built my beautiful pond! Every single time I look out my kitchen window at the pond or when I'm sitting out there once spring and summer arrive, I will think of Justin and remember watching him work, and seeing his care for my 14 fish that mean so much to me. I even named some of my fish, and Justin HATED that I named my fish, thought it was so silly. I'll smile and remember him when I call my fish by name at feeding time! His memory will live on in my beautiful pond that has given me so much joy!

There are SO many stories and memories each one of us has of Justin. He may not have been given a long time with us, but he left lasting memories. He will be greatly missed, and I, for one, will think of him daily every time I look at my pond.

Praying for both of you during this terribly sad time. Love, Rita

Posted by Rita Werner - FRIEND and co-worker   January 14, 2011

Tara and Pam,
I love you both, and I am here for you always. Valerie, I am so happy Justin had you. We dont know each other well, but I spent enough time with you to know you loved Justin and you made him happy. Thank you for allowing me to be with the family while we camped out and waited to hear the news that his transplant went well. I hope that all your wonderful memories help comfort you and your daughter as time goes on. and if there is anything I can ever do I am here.
Justin, It breaks my heart that you are no longer with us, but you will never suffer again. You, Tara and Mom were such a big part of my life. I learned so much from the 3 of you. You guys were always there for each other. Good times and bad times, you were a team. As I look back, I dont think I have ever met such a strong family, and there was just the 3 of you. I admire that, and I raise my kids that way. Your family taught me alot about standing up for each other and always standing together as a team. I will always love you and miss you. You are the brother I didnt have, and I am proud to have been part of your life. I know you will always be looking after all of us. Its not good bye, little Brother, its see ya later xoxoxoxo

Posted by Tiffany Prior-Wise - Springfield, IL - Family Friend   January 14, 2011