Eric Gavin, the lone person killed when a tornado devastated a mobile home park in Chetek, Wisconsin, was remembered as a loving father with a fondness for Harley-Davidson shirts.
Gavin was discovered in a nearby tree after the tornado wiped out the park in northwestern Wisconsin.
The tornado, which struck on May 17, injured at least 25 others. Gavin was remembered as a hard working and loving father who died in the town where he lived all his life. His daughter, Jewel, who shared the photo above with Heavy, said that it was taken when the father and daughter had gone fishing together.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gavin’s Daughter Recalled How He Was Always There for Her
Jewel Gavin, Eric Gavin’s daughter, wrote a heartfelt tribute to her father on Facebook.
“Whom I admire the most.. My father .. He was always that person who would talk to anyone about anything FOREVER … Even though I dont .. He would… he always was there for me and always protected me I will miss him and I love him very much … Even if he is physically gone he will never be emotionally gone..” she wrote.
A friend commented on the thread, “Jewel your dad always talked so great about you at work and how much you have grown up and how much he loves you!!”
In an interview, Jewel told Heavy, “Every Christmas, I would buy my dad jelly bellies and a Harley shirt which he expected every holiday. After we opened each others’ gifts, we would watch movies and eat the candy… But I mostly was the one who ate all my dad’s candy I got him 🙂.”
2. Gavin Worked for a Local Turkey Company & Was Getting Ready for Work When the Tornado Struck
According to WCCO-TV, Gavin “was a long-time factory worker at the Jennie-O turkey farm, which also suffered major damage during the storm.”
The television station reported that “Eric was at home getting ready for work. His family said he was talking to his father on the phone when the wind picked up and then the line went silent.”
According to The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Gavin worked at the turkey farm as an overnight truck driver.
3. Gavin Remained in the Community Where He Grew Up
Gavin grew up in Chetek, a small tight-knit community of just over 2,000 people in northwestern Wisconsin.
Classmates posted yearbook photos of him (above), saying that his name deserved a face.
One former classmate wrote, “The only fatality of the tornado yesterday was a classmate of mine, Eric Gavin. We graduated from Chetek in 1989. We had different friends in high school and really didn’t talk much. I do not know his family. We had a lot of mutual friends after high school in Cameron and Rice Lake. I hadn’t talked to him since the early 90’s. I do feel it is important to give a face to his name. Now, mind you, these are yearbook pics from 86 and 87. I am glad to see he had a lot of friends in his adult life. Rest in peace, Eric. So sorry this happened to you.”
A friend who worked with Gavin and lived next door to him described him as “charismatic” to the Leader-Telegram.
Darrin Seever, who also knew Gavin in recent times, told the newspaper, “He’s a good guy. He worked hard, willing to give a hand to anyone. His trailer is gone — I don’t know exactly where it is.”
Heavy has reached out to Gavin’s only child seeking a more recent photo of him to properly humanize him. One will be posted in this article if it is received.
4. Jewel Went to Shelters Looking for Her Dad, Not Knowing He had Died
Jewel Gavin rushed to a local shelter, expecting to find her father there.
“I was waiting for him to get off the bus and he just, he never came,” Jewel said to WCCO.
She was his only child, and she described herself to the television station as a “daddy’s girl.”
5. Horrifically, Gavin Was Found Dead in a Bank of Trees
The tornado ripped through the mobile home park, destroying many homes. According to Gavin’s friend, Ronald Blomberg, “I actually seen him getting pulled out of the trees,” WQOW-TV reported.
Blomberg escaped from the trailer park in time because he heard sirens in the distance, reports WQOW-TV.
Photos and videos captured the scope of the devastation. You can see them here: