Refusing to focus on the crime that took Amber Bowerman's life, her family shared stories about the 30-year-old's adventures, even laughing a few times at a Calgary news conference as they recalled a beautiful woman with a quick wit.
"Amber was a star. The party didn't start until Amber walked in," said Bowerman's aunt, Lolly James, on Tuesday.
"She was the most entertaining woman you could ever meet. She had a quick wit.... She was not only beautiful on the outside."
Bowerman was killed last Tuesday by her landlord, Joshua Lall, in the basement suite she rented before he went on to fatally stab his wife Alison, two young daughters and then himself.
Police said she was taken by surprise because there were no signs of a struggle. Bowerman's dinner was still on the stove and an open bottle of wine was nearby.
'Unfortunately, she was at the wrong place at the wrong time but we can't dwell on that. We have to move forward and carry on her life.'—Susan Webb, mother
An e-mail sent by Alison Lall that day outlined how her husband had been under stress at work and unable to sleep for a prolonged period of time.
Bowerman's mother, Susan Webb, was asked Tuesday if the family is grappling with questions of "what if?", given that her daughter could have been somewhere else that night.
"Yes, there are but we can't change that," she said. "Unfortunately, she was at the wrong place at the wrong time but we can't dwell on that. We have to move forward and carry on her life."
So it was Bowerman's life, not death, that dominated the news conference her family held Tuesday at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, where she studied journalism and worked at the student newspaper.
Family starting scholarship in Bowerman's memory
Bowerman was a freelance writer who worked for several publications in Calgary. Her family announced they're establishing a journalism scholarship in her memory, with the help of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association.
Her brother, Jonny, hopes to also start a scholarship in Amber's name at Lord Beaverbrook High School, where they both went to school.
"She cared about the people she met. She cared about their stories, and she cared about telling those stories in a true and honest way," said Chris Bowerman, who separated amicably from Amber several months before her death.
"She was funny and whimsical, and her sense of humour came through in her writing, just as it did in her life."
Her mother smiled as she talked about how Bowerman travelled to several countries and climbed the Great Wall of China despite her fear of heights.
"She saw a lot of the world and I know she wanted to see so much more," Webb said.
Chris Bowerman added a story about how Amber once froze walking across B.C.'s Capilano Suspension Bridge, holding up a line of kids and seniors behind her for several minutes.
"I want people to know what a wonderful daughter that I had and how much she made everybody happy," said Webb, explaining why she agreed to speak to the media.
"So yeah, talking about her, having people hear some things that maybe they didn't know about her, or even people that did know her, I think it's a comfort, it really is."
"It's the world's loss, not just ours," added James.
Webb said the family has honoured, in its own way, the moment her daughter died.
"She had opened a bottle of wine, so she was cooking her supper, she was having a bottle of wine. So when we got the things from her house, we took the rest of the wine with us and went to my dad's and we all had a sip and a toast to Amber, because I know that's what she'd want."
Bowerman's funeral has been set for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at McInnis & Holloway's Park Memorial Chapel. A tree will also be planted in her memory in Fish Creek Provincial Park.