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By Aaron Wherry
Slain University of Toronto professor David Buller's closest friend mourned the loss of a "remarkable, great Canadian" Tuesday, as police continued their investigation into the professor's mysterious death.
"He was one hell of a professor and one hell of a friend," said Paul Casselman, a friend of Buller's since the two attended high school together more than 30 years ago. "I loved the man. He's been like a brother to me."
Buller, 50, was found early Friday morning in his U of T office, the victim of several fatal stab wounds to the chest. He was last seen Thursday Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., but failed to appear for his scheduled 6 p.m. class. A caretaker found him dead the following morning.
Sgt. Robb Knapper of the Toronto Police said no new leads have been discovered in the case, but the investigation is ongoing.
Steve Desousa, a spokesperson for U of T, said all of Buller's classes for this week have been cancelled, and replacement professors from the fine arts faculty will take over his courses.
Casselman explained Buller grew up in the North York-Willowdale area of Toronto and began teaching in 1972 at the age of 22. Buller soon fell in love with the profession. "I remember him saying, 'the more you put into it, the more rewards you got out of it'," he said. "He was proud of his students. He found it so amazing that people were so bright."
After teaching art in the Strathroy area and working in a high school in Toronto, he opened a studio in Paris, France. Buller's time in Paris, Casselman explained, encouraged Buller to return to school with hopes of becoming a professor.
Buller returned from Europe and attended McGill University to pursue his master of fine arts, which he received in 1985. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching at U of T and remained there until his death last week.
He leaves behind a sister who works as a nurse, as well as a 90-year-old mother.
Casselman said he spoke with Buller Thursday morning before noon and the two had discussed Buller's passion in life his art. The two had planned to meet Friday afternoon to photograph Buller's art for an exhibition on the Internet. When Buller failed to return phone calls made Thursday night and Friday afternoon, Casselman quickly became concerned. "We had a great time talking about his upcoming work," he said "It didn't take me long to get concerned. He's a very organized person. I didn't have a premonition of violence."
Those who knew him find it hard to believe that Buller would have had an enemy in the world, Casselman said. "It's a mystery to all of us who knew him," he said. "If there was someone bothering him he would've told me."
While Buller's friends and colleagues now celebrate his incredible life, they still lament his loss, Casselman said.
"He had a lot to live for, a lot of work to do and a lot of impact to be made. What a pity, [but] God I'm lucky to have known him," he said. "An arrest won't bring closure and I don't want to have closure. I want to hold onto this. To not grow old with this man is a profound loss."