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esseditor | Wednesday February 10, 2021

Larger-Than-Life Leader, Friend & Employee-Owner

It is with great sadness that we announce Justin Gay, Executive Vice President of Operations passed away unexpectedly on February 9, 2021. The entire Emery Sapp & Sons family mourns this loss. On behalf of our Board of Directors, management team and employee-owners, we extend our deepest sympathies to Justin’s family.

ESS has lost a larger-than-life leader who brought his remarkable passion and dedication to everything he did. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Justin have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.

Justin was known for his abundant generosity. Through volunteer service, community support and industry leadership roles, he was a driving force for positive change. He was a pillar within the economic development community. He actively participated in organizations such as Regional Economic Development, Inc. (REDI), Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee and the Columbia Home Builders Association. Justin also served as a leading advocate and champion for those wishing to build a career in construction. He was a founding board member of the ESS Foundation, and launched an Introduction-to-the-Trades Accelerator program for students at Columbia Public Schools. Additionally, Justin supported and celebrated charitable causes that were important to those around him. He rallied support for many community organizations including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri, Boys and Girls Clubs of Missouri, and Rainbow House. He was especially proud to support the University of Missouri’s Tiger Quarterback Club. Justin leaves behind a community that only he could have helped build, and his legacy will forever be part of its foundation.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Justin’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

A GoFundMe page has been organized by Kelly Hoover and Katie Wagner benefitting Sara Gay, Justin’s wife, and their two children. If you feel led to give, we ask that you donate to this GoFundMe page.

Visit Justin’s GoFundMe

Funeral Arrangements & Obituary
Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory. Condolences may be left online for the family at

Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory
12 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65203

View Justin’s Obituary