Colorado canoeist stops in Switzerland County

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Little did Jim and Sharon Ray know that when they spread the ashes of their loved one on Labor Day that a free spirit drifter would sail onto their river bank.

The Rays always host a Labor Day family reunion at their home on the Ohio River this past weekend, and Sharon’s cousin, Kent Park, of Plainfield, Indiana, loved his family and loved coming to the “patio” on the river, for the reunion.

This past April, Kent lost his battle with cancer, but his one and only wish would be that his family would bring him to Vevay and spread his ashes in the river. The family held a service on the patio and then took turns spreading Kent’s ashes along the riverbank and in the river that he loved.

On Tuesday morning of this week as Jim and Sharon were having coffee on the “patio” overlooking the river, someone waved to them from a canoe. They asked the traveler to come ashore and join them for coffee.

Upon his arrival, he introduced himself as Brad Siders, from Colorado. He told the Rays that he started his trip on the Ohio River in Parkersburg, West Virginia in July. Siders will travel down river to the Mississippi River and then hopes to make it to the mouth of the Arkansas River by October.

Along the way, he has stopped and picked up work for a few days and then moved on.

They invited me over to meet Siders Tuesday morning, and I found that – just like Kent Park – Siders is a very friendly, free speaking fellow who loves the river.

As Jim Ray told the family over the weekend, “Don’t put Kent’s ashes up here too close because, Kent will end up at the house.”

Well it looks as if Kent’s spirit made it up to the “patio” through this stranger who just so happened to dock last night near the Rays and was welcomed with open arms by Jim and Sharon.

Safe travels Brad Siders; and Kent Park: may you rest in peace along this journey in the Ohio River.

-Rosemary Bovard