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  June 1, 1999

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'It's a loss for everybody'

  There were few strangers among the 1,300 Calgarians who paid their respects to Owen Hart yesterday.
 Fans young and old braved the rain, their heads bowed as tears streamed down their faces -- faces Owen had touched in his all too short life.
 Some remembered him as a kid selling programs at the Stampede Pavilion, promoting father Stu's wrestling show.
 "I went every week and always bought my programs from Owen," said Sue Gerdun, who missed work to join the wrestler's final farewell. I'm a Calgarian who grew up with the Harts. It's my chance to say goodbye."
 Most fans came out of respect for Owen, 34, and the Hart family, but a few were there to see their favourite wrestling stars.
 Some teenagers climbed on top of a bus stop and started cheering when scores of World Wrestling Federation wrestlers emerged from a bus before the funeral.
 "It's not night at the Oscars -- it's a funeral," said Melanie Robinson as she watched the hollering teens.
 Robinson was fortunate enough to have met Owen five days before he passed away.
 "It's a loss for everybody whose lives he touched," she said, adding as a Calgarian she knows what the Harts have done for the city.
 Some fans travelled thousands of kilometers to bid farewell to the wrestler who died last Sunday in Kansas City, Mo.
 "I came from Toronto," said Chris Morrison, 17, who met Owen twice.
 Owen was Morrison's favourite wrestler, and his tragic death, falling nine storeys and hitting his head on a turnbuckle, makes the fan believe more precautions are needed.
 "I wouldn't say stop the stunts, but they should make sure it never happens again," said the teen, standing with other fans outside the McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home on the corner of 50 Ave and Elbow Dr. S.W.
 Fans were lined up 10-deep around the chapel. One older fan remembers Stu bringing the kids into his store in the late 1950s.
 "Stu did all the shopping," laughed Ken Angevine, 71, who used to be the meat manager at a Safeway the Hart's used. "They were really, really good kids -- all very nice.
 "Owen's loss hit me pretty hard."
 The loss was also tough to take for a fan who used to train with a younger Owen and his brother Bret at B.J.'s Gym. "What happened should never have happened," said Steve Lambert, who snuck away from his job as a civil engineering technician. "The Harts show how friends and health is so important.
 "They taught me a lot about family."
 Lambert said Owen was one of the few genuine grapplers."He didn't stare you down. Owen was gentle like a lamb."

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