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Hiker robbed, murdered on remote Sierra trail

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POSTED May 18, 2014 6:56 p.m.

RED  BLUFF (AP) — Friends and colleagues in Massachusetts on Sunday were mourning a beloved civic leader who authorities say was murdered while hiking on a remote Northern California trail.

Flags flew at half-staff across West Tisbury, Massachusetts, to remember Francis “Pat” Gregory, 69, who spent more than two decades moderating meetings in the tiny town on Martha’s Vineyard. As residents celebrated the opening of a new police station Saturday, news quickly spread about Gregory’s death.

“The whole island is in a state of shock,” Richard Knabel, 74, a longtime West Tisbury town official, said Sunday. “There’s a lot of sadness here because of the senseless and horrible way that he died. I hope the authorities get the monster who committed this crime.”

In California, Tehama County sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Houghtby said Sunday that investigators were trying to track down the gunman who shot Gregory and a 76-year-old California man after taking their money and belongings Friday on a trail north of Red Bluff, located about 120 miles north of Sacramento.

Gregory died at the scene, and his unidentified hiking partner remains hospitalized with critical injuries.

Gregory had been on vacation with his wife, Dorothy, said Cynthia Mitchell, 64, another longtime West Tisbury town official.

The couple moved to Martha’s Vineyard from the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York in the early 1970s, Mitchell said. Gregory taught math at the West Tisbury school while his wife, a nurse, cared for their two children. In the mid-1980s, the couple opened EduComp, a computer and office supply store in West Tisbury that remains a popular business on the island.

In 1991, Gregory became West Tisbury’s meeting moderator, keeping a cool, calm demeanor even when tempers sometimes flared, Knabel and Mitchell said.

“It’s an incredible loss. He was a true giant in our rather small community. We are completely reeling from this news,” Mitchell said.

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