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Friends raise funds for funeral of 22-year-old Albion man

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Justin Swanger, who was well liked for sense of humor, died unexpectedly on Friday

Photo by Tom Rivers – A photo of Justin Swanger is displayed during a chicken barbecue and fund-raiser at Kirby’s Cider Mill in Albion today. Justine Daniels (right), one of Justin’s friends, is among the group that put on the fund-raiser to help pay for Justin’s funeral expenses.

ALBION – Justin Swanger was a freshman when he moved to Albion from Ohio. He soon won over friends with his sense of humor and contagious laugh.

He also earned a spot on the basketball team with a scrappy playing style and a knack for hitting long 3-pointers.

Swanger, 22, died in his sleep unexpectedly on Friday. His father, the late Jamie Swanger, also died as a young man.

Many of Justin’s friends gathered today to raise money for their friend’s funeral expenses. They served about 250 chicken barbecue dinners from Kirby’s Cider Mill on Brown Road. Justin worked there at times and also joined the farm at the Rochester Public Market, where the Kirby farm has been a vendor for many decades.

Justin was a dependable employee, showing up at 4 a.m. to get ready for the market in Rochester.

“A lot of times he was the one waking me up,” Mitchell Kirby said about those early mornings.

Justin enjoyed the fast pace at the market and interacting with the many customers. He also worked at Lowe’s.

During the chicken barbecue, a slide show included many photos of him with friends. Kirby played some of Justin’s favorite music.

“He’d want us to get together as friends and laugh,” Kirby said.

Justine Daniels graduated in the Class of 2010 with Justin. He made lots of friends because he was always so positive, she said.

“He was a great guy,” Justine said. “He was a people-person. He touched everyone with his smile. It didn’t matter what happened to him, he was always smiling.”

Justin liked to help friends with projects, whether landscaping or other work.

“He was a helping hand for anyone who needed it,” Justine said.

Justin is survived by his mother, Paula Canne, and his sister, Alyssa Swanger. For information about calling hours and his funeral, click here.