Foothills village grieves tragic loss

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 09:08 am

Family and friends of Josh Hunter pour out to the street outside of the Christ Church in south west Calgary following his funeral on Monday afternoon.
Family and friends of Josh Hunter pour out to the street outside of the Christ Church in south west Calgary following his funeral on Monday afternoon.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The Priddis community is mourning the tragic loss of a young man known for his kindness and generosity.

Friends and family clung to each other, many with tears in their eyes, during a celebration of 23-year-old Josh Hunter’s short life at the Christ Church in Calgary on April 21. Among them was his father Barclay, mother Kelly and sister Michaela.

The young musician and University of Calgary student, who is remembered for his small acts of kindness, love of music and passion for life, was one of five people killed at a small house party in Calgary on April 15.

During the Monday service, a family friend of the Hunter family, Peter Gammell, described the young man as an old soul who was unburdened what others thought of him,

“He’s the guy who resists his friends’ pleas to start jamming in his basement because grandma was having a nap,” he said. “Josh’s life seemed to be an endless stringing together of small acts of kindness.”

Gammell said Hunter lived life to the fullest – whether hiding under his sister’s bed to jump out and scare her or wrestling in the snow with a friend on his walk home from an evening at the Priddis pub.

“Josh lived fully, more fully than many who lived long lives,” said Gammell. “Josh would want us to view his ending as a starting point for us to live more fully.”

Hunter was the drummer of Calgary band Zackariah and the Prophets. The band just celebrated the release of its EP during a concert at Palomino in Calgary on April 12 and Hunter took the time to thank fans for their support on Facebook the following day.

Hunter attended Red Deer Lake School and Bishop Carroll High School and just completed his second year at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business where he planned to major in accounting.

Priddis resident Suzanne Oel, an MD of Foothills councilor, said the community is struggling with the loss.

“Because they are such a well-known and engaged family this loss is affecting everybody very deeply,” she said.

Oel said Barclay and his family are well-respected members of the community who are very involved in the village. Barclay is the vice-president of the Priddis Community Association.

“Because many of us have had connections with the family we feel it very personally,” she said.

Oel said Priddis residents are supporting the family every way they can during this devastating time.

“The spirit of the community will come out here to support and touch the family allowing them to grieve,” she said.

The Hunter family has not come forward yet to speak to media and requested that their privacy, and the other families involved, be respected as they come to grips with what occurred.

The Calgary Police Service charged Matthew Douglas de Grood, 22, of Calgary, with five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Jordan Segura, 22, Lawrence Hong, 27, and Zackariah Rathwell, 21. De Grood’s court appearance was on April 22.

Expressions of sympathy may be forwarded to the Hunter family at


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