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Stabbing victim's fashion sense evident at funeral

Stabbing victim's fashion sense evident at funeralLawrence Hong is pictured in an undated photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

CALGARY - Even in death, stabbing victim Lawrence Hong's keen sense of fashion shone through.

Many people attending the University of Calgary student's funeral Wednesday emulated his style by wearing bow ties and colourful socks.

Hong, 27, was killed last week along with four other young people at a house party celebrating the end of classes. A fellow party-goer is now facing five charges for first-degree murder.

Hong was described at the service as a social butterfly who loved fashion and had a passion for cycling and urban planning.

Miles Hong said he's sad that his brother won't be able to attain his dream — he was one exam away from graduating in urban studies.

"It's memories like ... those caring, happy moments, which I will remember for the rest of my life," he said holding back tears. "Right now they hurt to remember and think about, but someday I will go back to them and I will smile as I think of him for being caring, loving and compassionate."

He said he was conflicted over whether to talk about the circumstances of his brother's death.

"At first I thought I wouldn't delve into it. That I would rather focus on his life and celebrate it rather than think of the way he left the world," he said.

"It would be nice just to skate over it ... not think of how senseless it is and how there'll never be answers. Not (talking about it) would dismiss the fact of that he was taken from us too early. A life cut short when he had so much promise."

Friend and classmate Brendan McCabe fondly remembered Hong's sense of style.

"As you all know, his sense of style was immediately obvious. He could really, really dress. He wore pieces I could never dream of wearing, always flawlessly put together. He had such a unique look," said McCabe.

"I'm going to miss the daily lessons in patience, understanding and dedication. I'm going to miss his never-ending optimism and vibrancy."

There was a public viewing of Hong's body, which was dressed in a dark suit with a red and white gingham shirt with a blue bow tie.

A table outside the chapel was festooned with balloons, feathered angel wings, a Peugeot bike, Rayban sunglasses, multicoloured socks and more bow ties.

David Cooper told mourners that he started out as Hong's professor, but the two became a close friends. He said the first time Hong gave a presentation "he really rocked the bow tie."

"He never asked for recognition for his efforts. He never complained. He was always the best dressed at those Monday meetings," said Cooper, who added he saw Hong's "amazing potential" as an urban planner.

Workers at Calgary Transit organized special charter buses to take people to the funeral. The 403 Lawrence Hong Express ran from the University of Calgary to the church.

"Quite a few of us here know Lawrence from working with him, from volunteering with him, some of our staff here teach a course at the University of Calgary ... he is a wonderful guy who's really interested in public transport and just building a better city," said Jonathan Lea, a senior transit planner with Calgary Transit.

Funerals for the other victims — Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras and Josh Hunter —were held earlier this week.

Alberta Premier Dave Hancock said Wednesday he and other caucus members will attend a mass memorial for the five victims on April 30 at the University of Calgary.

Matthew de Grood, the son of a veteran Calgary police officer, has been charged in the killings. He is undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment and is to return to court in May.

Three of the victims were from the University of Calgary and the school allowed students to defer their final exams in the wake of the killings. Officials said Thursday that 1,000 students had accepted that offer.

University registrar David Johnston said that in a normal year about 500 students will request a deferral of finals.

"It's about twice of what we would normally see. We're not asking any questions. No documentation is needed," Johnston said.

"We're really trying to help students stay well but complete the semester."

Johnston said that with a few days left before the deadline, the number is likely to go higher, but he's not worried about some students taking advantage of the tragedy. The university has added two extra alternate exam dates. The latest finals can be written this semester will be June 23 and 25.

— With files from CFFR

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