Originally Published: December 11, 2018 10 p.m.
On Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, the world lost one of its best people. Justin Kaipo Kaoni, inventor of the karate chop dance move, was called home by his creator.
Justin was born in Lahaina, Hawaii, to Chris and Sam Kaoni on Oct. 20, 1976.
As a young child, you could find him swinging from a banyan tree or roaming Wahikuli beach in search of seashells and sand crabs. At age six, the family relocated to Prescott, Arizona, where he would make the ponderosa pine forest his playground for the remainder of his life.
Everyone who met Justin was touched by his relentless love of life and genuine presence of being. His intellect, foresight and humble leadership was sought out by anyone who had a problem to solve or a project to build. In his career as owner/operator of Mile High Tree Service, he spent many days in the canopy with his crew removing branches and treetops. Nimble as a ring-tailed lemur and strong as an ox, he would perform the work of three men while wearing an ear-to-ear grin. He protected the city of Prescott as a former Granite Mountain Hotshot and defensible space ninja.
He turned superhero at night as adopter of strays (human and canine), distributor of smiles/sage advice, and midnight snack chef. Purveyor of good eats, his home kitchen has a Michelin star and no shortage of loyal patrons.
On a lucky night in Las Vegas, Justin met the love of his life when he crossed paths with Shannon Rhoades of Riverside, California. A few years later, they were married on a perfect spring evening, May 6, 2006. Together they raised three amazing children, Shane, Elena and Chaz, who continue to make their father and family proud every day. Shannon and Justin’s profound love for each other has never faded in 12 years of marriage, as affirmed by their recent renewal of vows at the place where they met.
Justin was proficient in everything he spent time doing, but was best at spreading love and positivity. He will be remembered by everyone who was lucky enough to meet him (even just once).
He is survived by his wife, Shannon; children, Shane, Elena and Chaz; father, Samuel; sister, Sierra; and brothers, Brad and Kaikea. He was predeceased by his mother, Chris Kaoni-Turner.
An awesome celebration of life will be held at Mountain Club Clubhouse, Sunday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m., 900 W. Clubhouse Drive, Prescott, Arizona. All are welcome to be a part of the Kaoni ‘ohana (family) for the day and come share a story about this amazing person.
In lieu of flowers, have a laugh and meal with a close friend in his honor, or donate to the Eric Marsh Foundation for Wildland Firefighters @ https://ericmarshfoundation.org.
Information provided by survivors.