Springfield, Ohio newspaper article, 1993

This article was published in the Springfield, Ohio newspaper in 1993, almost twenty years after my rehab for sight loss, and is herein reprinted through courtesy of the Springfield News-Sun. I was Superintendent of the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant from August 1975 until January 2004, when I retired after a total of thirty-nine years of municipal public service. Although most material on the MPNHome.net site may be copied freely, the photograph and article may NOT be reproduced in any form without the express approval of the original publisher.

PERSONALITY.

Photograph of Mike Justice at his computer desk in his Wastewater Treatment Plant office

Mike Justice is visually impaired and he is superintendent of the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Community News photo by Scott Kissell.

He credits faith for success in coping with life

By Lynn Hulsey

News-Sun Staff Writer.

Depressed and on the verge of suicide as he tried to cope with the progressive loss of his eyesight, Mike Justice reached his lowest point in the early 1970's.

Then he fell off a roof.

Flash forward to 1993.

Justice sits in front of a voice-synthesized computer, one of several high-tech devices he relies on to do his job as superintendent of the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant. It's the top job at the plant and one Justice worked toward after starting out as a $1.59 per hour laborer in 1964. The promotions came even as Justice, 45, gradually went blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease. "I can no longer even recognize shapes," said Justice, a Springfield native.

He's come a long way from the 16-year-old who walked out of his doctor's office after hearing the diagnosis, thinking he didn't have much to look forward to in life. Instead of giving up, Justice applied for a city job and began making the best of things. Rising through the ranks, he became assistant plant superintendent in 1971. Within a year he found that reading had become extremely difficult. The final straw was when he walked across a parking lot, heard a car nearby but was unable to see it. "It was a little bit scary," said Justice.

He began considering disability retirement. "I said I'm not going to be carried in my position," said Justice. But he was talked out of leaving by his boss, Plant Superintendent Ron Collins, and Assistant Personnel Director Scott Bowers. That level of support from his co-workers continues, said Justice. Although he is able to do many tasks on his own, he gets help from his secretary and others who read printed material to him.

In 1973, he attended a rehabilitation center, where he learned braille, touch typing, and general living skills. At the center, Justice felt at home among other visually impaired people. But returning to Springfield he once again felt lost. That's when he slipped into the deep depression that ended with falling off the roof he and his brother were repairing.

In the hours before he climbed on the roof, Justice said he sat alone in his apartment and asked God to take over. An agnostic, he didn't really know what that meant but he had plenty of time to think about it during five weeks of recovery from the injuries he suffered in the fall. What he came to was a faith in God and Jesus Christ that permeates his life. The success he's had in spite of his blindness is all for the glory of God, said Justice, who attends Cornerstone Baptist Church.

In a religious tract Justice authored he writes: "The physical loss which I experienced brought me to Christ. I lost something which I could not keep beyond death, and I gained eternal life which I can never lose."

His faith deepened through the influence of his wife Carolyn, a child of missionaries, who attended Cedarville College. She took him to church with her and they married in 1976. They have two sons, Tom, 14 and Shaun, 11. He hasn't let his blindness stop them from having family fun. Christian friends from all over the world visit and the Justices take trips to visit other friends. They go to movies; An American Tail is his favorite. He also team teaches Sunday School with the assistance of his wife, who reads lessons on a tape. Computer programming and listening to taped versions of the Bible are other favorite pastimes when he's not working.

Although he may seem unique, this blind man running a huge wastewater treatment plant doesn't seem to think so. As he put it: "I'm just as lost as anyone else without Christ."

(Reprinted through courtesy of the Springfield News-Sun)