Fund-raiser to celebrate kayaker's life

June 23, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - John Gavin sighed as he looked at the photo of his brother, Timothy Gavin, flying down a 120-foot high waterfall in a kayak.

"He probably lived more in his 37 years than most people do if they live to be 80," John Gavin said.

Family, friends and fellow kayakers plan to gather Saturday night at the Cliffside Inn to honor Timothy Gavin's life with a fund-raiser.

The money raised from the $10 tickets will be divided between an education trust fund established for his son, Eric C. Gavin, the American Whitewater Association, and the volunteer fire company in Davis, W.Va.


Timothy Gavin died on March 29 while kayaking on the Blackwater River in Tucker County, W.Va.

An experienced kayaker, Timothy Gavin had paddled the Blackwater River more than 175 times.

"He didn't even get scratched doing this," John Gavin said, referring to the photo of his brother shooting down a waterfall in Colorado.

In the fatal accident, Timothy Gavin and a friend, Michael Moore, of Hagerstown, were paddling in separate kayaks when they were separated at a fork in the river. When Moore did not see Timothy Gavin emerge on the other side, he paddled upstream and found him underwater. His kayak had overturned.

"He was wedged so tight in the rocks there was no way for Mike to get him out," John Gavin said. "Mike nearly died trying to save him."

The next day, the river rescue team from the fire company in Davis, and other kayakers, were able to free Timothy Gavin's body.

John Gavin said he told his brother he worried about the danger of running the whitewater rapids.

"He said, 'Well if I've got to go, I want to be on the Blackwater when it happens to me,'" John Gavin said.

John Gavin said the family decided to have the fund-raiser benefit the American Whitewater Association to help preserve the scenic beauty of the Blackwater River.

"That was his favorite place," John Gavin said.

The Davis fire company's river rescue team will get some of the funds in hopes it can help make the river safer and as a way to thank its members for their work in recovering Timothy Gavin's body.

John Gavin said the area was too remote for the local volunteers to get to his brother in time to rescue him.

Months before he died, Timothy Gavin, a beverage manager at the Cliffside Inn's Gavins' Tavern, had booked the band, Jah Works, to perform Saturday, John Gavin said. The Baltimore reggae group was his favorite.

The organizers decided to turn the concert into a celebration of Timothy Gavin's life.

We Funk, a band from Shepherdstown, W.Va., will also perform.

The bands are scheduled to begin performing about 10 p.m. Saturday, following fireworks at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, John Gavin said.

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