‘The world lost a really fine man’: Friends remember Robert Hall, 2nd Canadian executed by Abu Sayyaf

Friends are describing Robert Hall as a man who lived life to the fullest, loved adventure but also gave back to his community.

Hall was the second Canadian being held hostage by the militant group Abu Sayyaf to be killed, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“It is with deep sadness that I have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall, held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015, has been killed by his captors,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Who was Robert Hall? 2nd Canadian executed by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines 

Hall was born in Calgary but lived in several parts of Western Canada. Edmonton radio station 630 CHED confirmed Hall was retired and living in Spruce Grove when he left on his sailing trip to the Philippines.

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His friend Alex Davis told 630 CHED he and Hall were part of the same philanthropic group, the Shriners. Davis said Hall loved adventure as well as helping others.

“One of his passions was sailing, but he was also involved in the philanthropic organization. One of the things we loved to do was to go and raise money for the Shriners children’s hospitals. We have seniors homes that we support, a myriad of different hospitals without borders.”

Another friend said Hall owned a welding business in Spruce Grove, invested in real estate, became a pilot and learned to sail.

“He was a very passionate man with a real zest for life who loved learning new things and experiencing new adventures,” said Donna, who asked that her last name not be used.

“When Bob was interested in something, he didn’t waste any time learning the new skill. When he said he was going to do something, he didn’t just talk about it, he did it.

“He once told me that he wasn’t sure if there was enough time in his life to experience all the exciting things he wanted to experience.”

Donna said she first met Hall nearly 30 years ago and they became close friends for many years.

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“He was an excellent mentor, always encouraging young people to think for themselves and to follow their dreams,” she said. “He was extremely intelligent and articulate – had one of those minds that seemed to retain everything he read.”

Donna said Hall moved back to B.C. and the two lost touch.

READ MORE: Canadian Robert Hall executed by Abu Sayyaf after ransom deadline expires

Hall sold most of his possessions to buy a sailboat, which he sailed from B.C. to the Philippines, prior to being kidnapped last September. According to multiple media reports, Hall had intended to sail to Thailand and had started dating a Filipino woman, Maritess Flor, shortly before the pair were abducted.

The Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf had set a 3 p.m. ransom deadline for June 13 for the three remaining hostages, including Hall. He was kidnapped in the Philippines along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Flor, and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, who was executed by Abu Sayyaf in April.

READ MORE: Executed Canadian hostage John Ridsdel’s family ‘devastated’ by his death 

Abu Sayyaf is known as a violent militant group in the southwestern Philippines, with links to the Islamic State. The group has been blamed for several bloody terrorist attacks in the country and for kidnapping foreigners.

“Sadly, this last adventure to the Philippines and having a new love in his life (Maritess) would be his final one,” Donna said.

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“Robert was a great inspiration to all who knew him as he touched the lives of many. My heart goes out to his family and friends,” she said.

“The world lost a really fine man.”

With files from Andrew Russell, Global News

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