Obituary: Justin Kukalis, 84, of Ludington

December 27, 2022

Justin Kukalis

Obituary: Justin Kukalis, 84, of Ludington

Justin Joseph “Jay” Kukalis, 84, of Scottville passed away on Saturday, December 24, 2022.  Justin was born in Joliet, Ill, the son of James and Mildred (Alisauskas) Kukalis and as a family, they moved to Scottville in 1944 where Justin graduated from Scottville High School with the class of 1957.  He worked for a short time at the Dow Chemical Company in Ludington.  He also served his country with the U.S. Army Reserves until entering the Michigan State Police academy in 1964.

Justin married his high school sweetheart, Karen Lenora Rahn, in 1964 and they have celebrated 58 years by each other’s side.  Together they raised their two sons, James and John.

Justin was stationed as patrol officer in St. Clair and New Buffalo before moving his family to the Detroit area in 1972 to serve as a detective for the remainder of his career.  He served in the Michigan State Police from 1964 to 1989 achieving the rank of detective first lieutenant and was the command officer for the Down River Area Narcotics Organization. During his career Justin was recognized as one of the top law enforcement officers in the State of Michigan and chosen to represent the State at the 140th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Upon retirement from the State Police, Justin and Karen resettled in Scottville to the town they loved and the property where he was raised – and together they built the log cabin of their dreams.  During the first 12 years Justin was back in Scottville, he taught criminal justice and firearms at West Shore Community College.

Justin feared God and loved Jesus along with his Catholic faith.  He was a committed member of St. Jerome’s Parish in Scottville where he was raised and married the love of his life, Karen.  Once the parish closed, he was devoted to St. Mary’s in Custer.  Daily prayer devotion, scripture reading, and the Rosary were the foundations of his faith life.

Justin was preceded in death by his sister Antoinette (Toni) Milkanin.  Along with his wife Karen, Justin will be greatly missed by their sons James Carl (Sandra Dee) Kukalis of Ave Maria, Fla. and John Michael (Julia) Kukalis of Brighton. He will also be missed by his grandchildren Ciara (Jake) Bond, Evan Kukalis, Ryan Kukalis, Rachel (Christian) Hefner, Rebecca (Daniel) Hussey, and Jack Kukalis; and his great- grandchildren Laila Bond, Luke Bond, and Noelle Hefner.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Justin at 11 a.m. on Friday, December 30 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Custer with Rev. Daniel DePew as Celebrant.  Burial will take place later in the spring at Center Riverton Cemetery.  Friends may greet Justin’s family on Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church where the Rosary will be prayed for Justin at 7:30 p.m.  Those who wish to remember Justin with a memorial donation are asked to please consider St. Mary’s Catholic Church, or Right to Life.

Please visit Justin’s memory page at to share a tribute of Justin with his family, or to light a candle in his memory.

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