Beloved son, grandson, brother, friend, musician, writer, humorist, great guy. Born Nov. 22, 1980, in Halifax. Died May 2, 2011, in Halifax of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), aged 30.
Ken MacCulloch passed away on the morning of the federal election in May, before he had a chance to vote. Having actively supported one of the candidates and possessing strong opinions on politics – and on everything else that he considered important – he would have been upset.
Ken was passionate and committed, whether at home recording his own dub reggae, in local clubs on dub-reggae nights live mixing under the name Pandaman – wearing a panda suit he had made with the help of a friend – creating the script for an animated sitcom about animals, adopting a feral cat named Hula or ranting to anyone who would listen about some current issue.
He had a gift for conversation and could go from discussing world affairs to how refreshingly cool it is to flip your pillow on a warm night. He made it all seem significant. His sense of humour lit up many a room, and people gravitated to him because to be around Ken was to be happy. Walking everywhere, never in a rush, he would stop to listen, laugh and catch up.
An apartment mate of Ken’s was dating a young woman with a preschool child. The little girl would quietly sit when visiting. Ken would try to coax her into conversation, but with no luck. One day, however, she said, “I’m a duck.” He quickly replied, “Why didn’t you tell me? I’m a duck too!” They proceeded to quack around the apartment together.
Ken always said he had a great childhood, sharing many adventures with his brother, John, sisters, Meghan and Emily, and lifelong friends. Ken played baseball, soccer and hockey. Although his confidence exceeded his ability, in hindsight, a genetic heart condition, revealed only after his death, may have limited his stamina. He later became obsessed with football, playing with his friends on Sunday mornings, following his beloved New Orleans Saints and playing fantasy football in the CPFL (Coach Potato Football League).
Ken put a lot of effort into avoiding schoolwork, but eventually earned his high-school diploma. In his 20s, he held several jobs, primarily as a waiter. After extensive testing several months before he died, he found out he had an exceptionally high IQ, which encouraged him to pursue his writing. He also applied to Nova Scotia Community College for the fall.
Ken developed epilepsy about two years before he died, though he was not diagnosed until May, 2010. On hearing of his death, his friends came from across Canada and from as far away as New Zealand to be home with their best friend. At the celebration of his life, his musician friends formed a New Orleans street band, opening with a Dixieland funeral march and ending with an uplifting When the Saints Go Marching In. As his close friend Ross said, “We’ll never forget you and will carry you with us down every road we walk.”
By Kirk and Beth MacCulloch, Ken’s parents.
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