A founder and pillar of Best Friends Animal Society Ernst Paul Eckhoff, 72, Kanab, died March 24 in a one car rollover in Kane County.

Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant LaMar Heaton said the 7:30 a.m. accident occurred when Eckhoff was traveling four miles west of SR-89 on Hancock Rd. in a 1988 Range Rover. He was wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred.

Eckhoff lost control of his vehicle in a curve on the road. The left wheels of his vehicle left the pavement on the left side of the road, and the driver attempted to correct. The vehicle went into a skid and overturned one and a half times before coming to rest on its roof. The driver was fatally injured in the rollover.

Paul, as most people knew him, was a kind representative of  the animal organization that he and his late wife Magdalene, were such important contributors to. He also was a man respected and loved within the community that Best Friends become a major part of.

When the founders took possession of Angel Canyon in January of 1984, Eckhoff was the first member of the team to take up residence. He lived in a small travel trailer near what has since become the Humane Education building. The trailer served as the base of operations what what was to become Best Friends Animal Society.

"I first knew him about 45 years ago in England," said Gregory Castle, another Best Friends founder. "He was one of the first people who came here." An architect by trade, Eckhoff designed many buildings at Best Friends. "Most every structure you see here was designed by him."

While he as other founders, have been easing out of hands-on operations, Eckhoff loved Best Friends as his family. They loved him back.

"One of the remarkable things about Paul is how well he was respected by the community," said Castle. "He was kind and fair, and never judgmental."