Hundreds of people gathered in Salmon Arm Saturday to remember church elder Gordon Parmenter.
Among the crowd who packed the SASCU Recreation Centre for Parmenter’s Celebration of Life was church teacher Paul Derkach, who described the 78-year-old as a father figure.
“[He was] somebody that I really admired and looked up to, and hoped that I could emulate some day,” Derkach told Global News Saturday.
WATCH: (Aired April 15) One man dead in church shooting in Salmon Arm
On April 14, Parmenter was gunned down in his place of worship. He and Derkach were at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ when a man armed with an assault style rifle interrupted the morning service, firing at Parmenter before fleeing.
As Derkach attended to the dying elder, the gunman returned and shot him in the leg.
“It’s been pretty painful,” he said.
After 10 days in hospital in Kamloops, Derkach is healing back home thankful he was able to pay his respects to Parmenter, who he’s known since moving to Salmon Arm in 1994 from Brandon, Man.
“He was very caring,” Derkach said. “He kind of took me under his wing too when I moved here years ago, and we were pretty close.”
Born California, Parmenter is being described as an amazing, generous and caring man who was also a father, and along with his wife Peggy, a parent to many foster children. The couple fostered several youth over four decades, starting in 1979.
“Peggy and Gord were foster parents for as long as I remember,” Derkach recalled. “Many kids that nobody else would take in, they cared for them so well.”
WATCH: (Aired April 14) Fatal shooting in Salmon Arm church
Parmenter’s influence was felt far beyond the small Shuswap city of just over 17,000 people.
“He means a lot to me,” said Tammy Brown, who traveled from Kamloops for the service. “I had never had that before meeting him. I didn’t know that father figures could be like that. He was just an awesome man who touched many people’s hearts.”
Meanwhile, Derkach is facing a month of rehabilitation after his leg heals, but is expected to make a full recovery.
“It’s been going really well,” he said. “I was really pleased that the doctor was able to do such a great job.”
Matrix Savage Gathergood, 25, is charged with first degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the tragedy that shattered the peace, but not the spirit, of Salmon Arm.
“I know there’s a lot of people that have strong faith in God here,” Derkach said. “When something like this happens, it sure came out.”
Although Parmenter is gone, Brown says his legacy will survive.
“There’s a lot of love he left behind, but we’re really gonna miss him,” she said.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.