A bright light has gone out. It is with broken hearts that we announce the death of the Hon. Bill Rompkey who passed away peacefully on March 21st at the age of 80.
Beloved husband to Carolyn (Pike), devoted father to Hilary (Joel) and Peter, and “awesome” grandfather to Max and Ana. Predeceased by his brother Ron, son of William and Margaret (Fudge). Bill was born in Belleoram, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, grew up in St. John’s, attended Bishop Feild College and graduated from Memorial University, BA, MA. He was awarded Alumnus of the Year at Memorial University in 1980 and later a Honourary Doctorate. Though he spent most of his life in parliament, he would tell you he was first and foremost an educator. He earned his teaching qualifications from the University of London, England, began teaching in St. John’s and soon after moved with Carolyn to Labrador where they both taught. He later became principal of the Yale School in North West River and then the first Superintendent of Education with the Labrador East Integrated School Board.
Labrador holds a special place in the hearts of Bill and Carolyn, as that’s where their adventures began, as they started their family and made lifelong friends. In 1972, while working on his PhD at the University of Toronto, he won the Liberal nomination for Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador, representing Labrador in the House of Commons. First elected in 1972, he was undefeated in 6 subsequent elections and served in the cabinets of Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau and Rt. Hon. John Turner. Bill was a tireless advocate for Labrador, a land he held so dear.
Appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1995 by the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien representing Labrador, Bill served as Whip and Deputy Leader of the Government, as well as, Chair of the Fisheries Committee. In 2011 he retired at age 75, leaving Parliament Hill after almost 40 years of service. A true bipartisan parliamentarian, he was respected and admired by his colleagues.
He was the author of several books, including The Story of Labrador of which he was most proud. A dedicated member of the UNTD (Naval Reserve) Bill’s love of the sea is reflected in his book St. John’s and the Battle of the Atlantic. Equally his love of music was apparent at an early age as a bugler and a drummer in the Church Lads Brigade (CLB) band.
We imagine him contently sitting in front of the fireplace with a good book, surrounded by the sounds of family and music, his glasses perched on his nose, wearing his beloved hand knit wool socks, a faithful dog at his feet. He taught us about dedication, hard work, dignity and strength; how to form our own opinions, seek out the truth and forge friendships. He touched so many lives and has done so much for so many. We are very proud of his legacy.
Cremation has taken place. Relatives and friends may visit the family at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road, St. John’s on Thursday, March 30th from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9:30 p.m. Funeral service will be held at the Anglican Cathedral on Friday, March 31st at 2:00 p.m. Interment at the Anglican Cemetery, Forest Road. Donations in his memory may be made to the Canadian Liver Cancer Foundation and Memorial University of NL.
Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Church Street, St. John's
Interment at the Anglican Cemetery, Forest Road