Gordon and Peggy Parmenter spent much of their lives fostering young people in need, in addition to raising four children of their own.
That came to an end Sunday morning when Gordon, 78, was fatally shot in the Church of Christ, where he served as an elder. A 25-year-old man was arrested after being detained at the scene by parishioners.
Matrix Savage Gatherhood has been charged with first degree murder, aggravated assault and disguise with the intent to commit an indictable offence. He has been remanded by the court.
At the time of the attack, Parmenter was filling as preacher for the church, which has not had a pastor for several years.
Cole Wintringham lived as a foster child with the Parmenters for four years until he aged out of the system in 2017.
“Without him I never would have made it to Grade 12. I was fear stricken at the thought of attending classes,” he wrote on social media. “However, I was able to reintegrate into the school system in Grade 11. I am now in my third term of college. I would not be there were it not for Gord.”
“I’ll miss you forever Gordo, you were one of the best men I ever knew.”
The Parmenters volunteered as an emergency placement family for at-risk children and fostered many children over the years.
Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison, a former high school principal, knew many of the children the Parmenters fostered.
“Gordon was a church elder and very well thought of in the community and very well-known in our city,” he said. “We are moving from an initial reaction of disbelief to one of sorrow, sadness and loss. The community is in shock.”
The City has lowered its flags to half mast in Parmenter’s honour, while the Church of Christ remains behind police tape.
“In a community like ours expressions of grief are intimate, one to one, and there is a lot of that going on right now,” he said. “What has given people some feeling of safety is that it was a targeted event. Gordon was in his place of worship, but it wasn’t church-related.”
A fundraising campaign for the Parmenter family was established last month after an arson attack on their home.
“In the early morning hours of March 14th Gord and Peggy Parmenter lost their home to a suspicious fire narrowly escaping with only the clothes on their backs and their two children,” reads the original GoFundMe page. “The money raised here will go towards helping them start over, pay for food and clothing as well as any other in between costs that may arise.”
The page was retitled on the weekend to the Parmenter Memorial Fund, with all funds to go to Peggy.
“We lost a husband, a father (of various manifestations grand, great grand, foster, and father to some who are fatherless), our friend, our mentor and our patriarch,” the new text reads. “He made a powerful impact on all who knew him and if you knew him you know of his love and his affection fuelled by his faith in Jesus Christ.”
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