Cover photo for Justin Harris Libby's Obituary
Justin Harris Libby Profile Photo

Justin Harris Libby

d. January 28, 2020


Justin Harris Libby, son of Miriam and Julian Libby  of Cincinnati, Ohio, was professor emeritus in the department of history at IUPUI.   After a seven year battle with lung cancer, Justin died peacefully in his sleep on January 28th.   For more than forty years, whether teaching American history or one of his specialties, Japan and International Relations, he made history come alive by requiring his students to ask questions and discover new ideas.  His commitment to his students went beyond the lecture hall, however. He was always ready to support those who arrived on campus lacking academic preparation, who came from other countries, or had financial struggles.  During his tenure at IUPUI, he served as chair of the graduate history program for two years, sat on many campus wide committees, and was an active researcher having dozens of articles published until the last weeks of his life.

Justin’s academic interest in studying East Asia grew from four years spent in Japan and Laos as part of the United States Air Force from 1957 to 1961.  While in Tokyo, Justin was an air traffic controller, in addition to being given temporary assignments as part of the special forces missions to Laos, as a forward observer.

After leaving the Air Force, Justin returned to the United States and completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in three years, followed by an MA in history the following year.  While there he met his future wife Judith Freeman.   They were married in 1965 and have two children Dr. Julie Anne Hertzer,  Cleveland, (Dr. John Hertzer,) and Professor Andrew Libby, Bloomington (Debby Harris.)  The delight of the last twenty years, however, has been spending time with his five grandchildren, Margo and Lauren Hertzer and Miles, Alex, and Sam Libby.   Nothing made him happier than taking the whole family on vacations to Aspen, Martha’s Vineyard, Tucson, and a special 50th anniversary trip to Costa Rica.  Along with his wife, he took several trips for research to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Viet Nam and Cambodia.  They also enjoyed spending spending time in Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Baltics, and the British Isles.  Justin was especially proud of being asked to give papers in Hong Kong, the Naval War College, Annapolis, and at many historical conferences around the country.

Justin also found great pleasure in volunteering.   For several years he coached baseball at First Baptist.  Along with his wife, he fostered seven infants from St. Elizabeth’s, served as advisor to his temple youth group, helped establish and then resettle the first group of Russian Jews fleeing the Soviet Union, hosted multiple Japanese families when they arrived at IUPUI to study at the school of dentistry, and worked for many years on the Jewish Federation’s “super Sunday” fund drive.  In addition, for more than forty years, Justin was a faculty advisor to IUPUI students. They could always count on a welcome from Dr. Libby when they arrived at his office.  Almost every semester his classes filled, and he was happy to let any student willing to work hard enter.  Even after his official retirement at 65, Justin continued teaching for another decade, reluctantly having to stop after his cancer diagnosis.

Throughout the last two years of Justin’s battle with lung cancer, he was thankful for the support  of his sister Rosalyn Holtzman, his nieces and nephews, and especially the many frequent visits, calls, and cards from his wonderful friends and neighbors.  He was also thankful for the excellent care of people from St. Vincent’s Hospice, My Extra Hands, and Bright Star who enhanced and extended the quality of his life.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Beth El Zedeck Temple or Riley Hospital.

Funeral services will be held at 11am on Friday, January 31, 2020 at Aaron-Ruben-Nelson Mortuary, 11411 N. Michigan Road, Zionsville, IN 46077.

Immediately upon return from the cemetery, the family will gather for a meal of condolence at the Libby Residence.  There will be a brief memorial service/minyon at 3:30 PM and all are welcome to attend.  The family will be attending services at Beth-El Zedeck on Friday evening at 6pm.
Friends may join the family for a short memorial service at the Libby residence on Saturday at 5:30pm, and they will be receiving friends for the evening.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Justin Harris Libby, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, January 31, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Aaron - Ruben - Nelson Mortuary, Michigan Road, Zionsville

North Michigan Road, Zionsville, IN

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