For the Zahl Family

Please join us in supporting Justin and Riley  Zahl and the rest of their family as they mourn the loss of their parents John Zahl and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas. 

John and Joanne lived on Portapique Beach Rd. next door to the man responsible for the unfathomable events that occurred on April 19, 2020 in Nova Scotia. Their house was found burned down and them missing but presumed dead. The family also had cats they loved that are also lost in this tragedy. 

The support you give is greatly appreciated by the family who have given their consent to this fundraiser. They are unsure how to pick up the pieces to their lives that have now been irrevocably changed. 

Both of them were volunteers at St. James Presbyterian Church often and Joanne was the head of the "Laundry Project", a nonprofit group that helps people in need have clean laundry.  The family lived in Albuquerque, NM for 20 years where they raised adopted sons Justin(22) and Riley Zahl (19). 

The couple moved to Nova Scotia after falling in love with the place in 2017. When Joanne, originally from Manitoba, and John met it was love at first sight according to Justin and Riley. The boys call them “saints.” 

Our prayers are with all the families and friends affected by this senseless series of events. We thank you all for the support.

I have been made aware that this is in US dollars and not Canadian Currency.  I realize this may throw some off. I apologize. I live in Albuquerque, NM (USA) where the Zahls raised their boys for twenty years before moving to Nova Scotia. Their son Riley still lives here and these funds will be used to helphim across the border and funeral arrangements and then some. The executor of the estate lives in the US as well. 

Other details: 
1. Who am I? My name is Gena Lawson and I know the victims through their children, Justin and Riley. I taught Justin English for grades 9, 10 and 11. Joanne also gave my daughter her first present ever when she was born (on Justin’s birthday of all days).

2. The funds being raised will go to the benefactor who runs the Zahls estate. It is to be used for funeral expenses and traveling Riley and other relatives from the US and around Canada to Nova Scotia to be with Justin. The family lost their entire house as well and the money is to help pick up what pieces they can from that great loss. 

3. The beneficiary is Dorian Dodson, Joannes best friend.  John’s daughter has put me in touch with Dorian and she is already listed to handle the funds and has been authorized by the children. 

  • Devon Peavoy 
    • $25 
    • 26 mos
  • Arvind Natarajan 
    • $444 
    • 27 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 27 mos
  • Marie Enright 
    • $50 
    • 27 mos
  • Hannah Humphrey  
    • $100 
    • 27 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Gena Lawson 
Albuquerque, NM
Dorian Dodson