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Norwalk: Benefit memorial for father and daughter kayakers

10:56 PM, May 17, 2013   |    comments
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NORWALK, Ohio -- The Norwalk community is planning a fundraiser to help pay for the funeral costs of the father and daughter who drowned while kayaking on Lake Erie.

Jonathan and Viola Francis departed from Crystal Rock on April 6.

When they never returned, the U.S. Coast Guard went searching in vain.

Nearly three weeks later, they were discovered in the water near Huron.

An only child, 12-year-old Viola was her father's heart, say family members.

"Constantly together. Rock climbing, out on the water, doing whatever they could," said Lisa Back, Jonathan's sister.

Jonathan, 30, often took his daughter on outdoor adventures, but this was their first venture together in kayaks onto the lake.

Saturday, May 18, friends are hosting a fundraiser at the VFW in Norwalk, in Huron County.

Musicians Mike Risner, Eddy Francis, Brad Walk and S&M will perform.

There will be an auction and raffle. 

"We've had a lot of people step up to lend a helping hand. It's been reassuring to see people still have hearts out there," said Mike Risner, Jonathan's brother.

Cover charge is $8, including dinner. The proceeds will help offset the cost of the funeral, which was held last week.

Auction items donated by local businesses include salon services, movie passes, Kalahari tickets, a hotel suite and several restaurant gift cards.

Doors open at 4 p.m. at the VFW, 140 Milan Avenue, in Norwalk.


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