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Friends remember Anthony Panter

It didn’t matter whether Anthony Panter knew you very well, friends and colleagues say. He would find a way to connect and unearth some common ground.

The 27-year-old Medford man, who was killed Saturday night in a two-vehicle crash in the 1200 block of Eagle Mill Road just outside Ashland, was willing to get to know anyone.

“He could never have too many people in his life,” said Andrew Backus, Panter’s friend. “He was never overwhelmed by hanging out with new people. He’s one of those people ... if you were hanging out with a giant group that he’d never met, and then he just shows up, he’ll be their friends at the end of the night, and he’ll find something to talk to them about, he’ll find something to identify with.”

And that quality, Backus said, is a key part of his friend’s legacy.

“You think when someone is so young, that legacy might not be substantial, but his legacy is just incredible,” Backus said. “He’s going to be such a big part of everybody whose life he’s been a part of. The effects that he had on people isn’t going away at all. If anything, it’s just really going to get galvanized.”

Emergency crews responded to the crash at 7:44 p.m. Dec. 7, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Two vehicles, a 2010 Toyota Prius driven by Panter and a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado pickup had collided.

“The pickup was actually on fire as emergency personnel arrived,” said sheriff’s office public information officer Mike Moran.

Panter was pronounced dead at the scene. The pickup’s driver, 23-year-old Skyler Miller of Ashland, and an unnamed passenger were not injured, according to a news release.

The Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction team is investigating the crash. A preliminary investigation shows the northbound Prius “overcorrected” after it began to drift off the road onto the shoulder, Moran said. The Prius then traveled into the southbound lane, where the pickup struck it on the driver’s side, police said.

Employees at Standing Stone Brewing Company, where Panter worked as bar manager, held a memorial gathering for him Sunday, closing the restaurant at 2 p.m., said Standing Stone Manager Elisha Lewis.

Hired about three years ago at the restaurant as a server, Panter quickly climbed the ranks. Lewis said Panter was personable and found ways to bond with people “across the board.”

“I think that was reflected in the service that he gave our customers and the friendship that he gave to each and every person,” Lewis said. “(His death) was a huge, huge loss for us, and I think we’re all just trying to process it.”

Panter was a member of local bands Motions — Backus’s band — and Your Hands Write History, Backus said.

“Anything he tried to do, he was such a passionate person that he would just set his mind to something and just be the best at it,” Backus said. “He did that with drums, and he did that with music in general. So many other things.”

“I know a lot of musicians. I’ve been in the scene for a while and just have been around a lot. He was always the best guitar player and the best drummer I ever knew. He was phenomenal.”

Panter’s friend Hannah Messenger said she and her husband, Paul — referred to by band members as “band mom” and “band dad” because of their support and involvement — “loved him like we love an adopted son.”

“He was a team player, a gentle soul, and brought a quiet strength with him,” Messenger said.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up on behalf of Panter’s wife, Lauren, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/anthony-panter-memorial-fund. The campaign as of Monday afternoon had raised $14,755 toward a goal of $25,000.

“Anthony was well known within the church for not only leading people into worship but also showing others what true faith looks like, even in the midst of difficult times, by clinging to the Gospel,” the GoFundMe page says.

“He really found his identity in Jesus,” Backus said. “It’s what every Christian should look like: knowing that the relationships we have with people are all we really have, and just showing that love and compassion and forgiveness.”

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Anthony Panter