Obituary: Barry Bompas has passed away

Barry Bompas Headshot PhotoBarry Bompas, a longtime leader of employee relations at UFV, passed away on May 30, 2015 after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer. He leaves behind his wife, partner, and best friend, Lin.

Barry came to Fraser Valley College in 1983 as a 33-year-old human resources specialist with a passion for the people side of the work. Barry was instantly attracted to the friendliness and relaxed atmosphere at FVC, and the easy-going discourse among faculty, staff, and management. Until his retirement from the position of VP, Finance and Employee Services in 2005, Barry was key to sustaining the harmonious culture that has been the hallmark of this university.

“There was just such an ease to people, a sense of openness,” he recalled in a retrospective interview conducted in 2009. “Even during my job interview, I was struck by the friendliness and ease among colleagues that crossed all the traditional boundaries. Everyone was quite comfortable with one another, which was definitely a different experience than I’d had in other workplaces. I thought to myself that if that’s the way it is now, with around 80 faculty and 60 staff, then we should try to keep this positive atmosphere going.”

Barry’s goal was people should always feel comfortable coming into HR, and he built a department that understood and shared his belief in the importance of people. Barry always had an open-door policy, and he remarked that up until around 1990, “I knew every name of every employee. That was part of the charm of the place. Everyone knew everyone and everyone cared about their fellow employees.”

Although he and his department were tasked with all the challenges that came with human resource and labour relations practices in a complex institution, Barry believed in the importance of work-life balance. From employee welcome-back barbecues and Halloween celebrations, to hallway conversations and spontaneous coffee chats in his office, Barry embraced every opportunity to remind people that life can be short and we should all have fun and remember not to “sweat the small stuff.”

The transition from Fraser Valley College to university-college status began a period of sustained growth, with between 20 and 40 new employees joining UCFV annually for a number of years. Barry strove to encourage the hiring of people who would both exemplify excellence in their field and fit into the culture of UCFV.

Throughout his career at FVC/UCFV, Barry regularly taught human resource courses for the Business Administration program, which he credited with keeping him in touch with student needs and priorities.

All in all, Barry found his years at FVC/UCFV were very rewarding, enough to make the daily commute from False Creek worthwhile.

“It was a privilege to work at such a special place. You can work your whole life somewhere and at the end look back and see that it was just for the money. But there was not one morning that I didn’t want to go to work. That’s how I really felt.”

At Barry’s request there will be no service. The family is planning an intimate reception for close friends to celebrate Barry’s life.

Barry Bompas and ice cream

Barry Bompas serving ice cream at an employee barbecue.


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6 Responses to Obituary: Barry Bompas has passed away

  1. MaryAnne MacDougall June 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Barry’s hard work and sense of what is truly important in a workplace made a huge impact on our university’s culture as a place where people were really valued. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.

  2. Don Chapman June 4, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Very sad to hear of Barry’s untimely passing. He was notable among his colleagues for his humour and his fairness. We are the better for having been in his company.

  3. Bev Lowen June 4, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    It just doesn’t seem possible that someone as vibrant as Barry is no longer with us. To me he was the heart of FVC/UCFV/UFV. It was a privilege to know him and a privilege to work with him. My heartfelt condolences to Lin.

  4. Carole Higginbottom June 5, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Barry truly was the heart and soul of FVC/UCFV/UFV. He was the “go to guy” – if it needed “fixing” he would “fix it”; if it was going okay, he would make it even better. I especially appreciated all the personal guidance, support, and encouragement that he gave me over the years. HIs warm disposition and smile will remain constant in my memory. Barry was the best of the best. My very sincere condolences to Lin.

  5. Rhonda Snow June 9, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    My heart sank when I read the news about Barry. So many times I heard someone lament that Barry was no longer at UCFV to fix things or stop them from going awry. UCFV was a very different workplace when Barry was around. He was a master at employee relations, showing respect and understanding for individuals, The Barry Solution was not always loved, but it was understood and accepted — in large part, I believe, because it conveyed his extraordinary sense of justice, caring, and honesty.

    • Lesley Poh June 11, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      I had a couple of occasions to meet with Barry in his role as head of ER the first time was during a round of bumping and I was struck by the fact that Barry came to tell me in person by taking me into a quiet office to break the news. I felt as though I had been told by a friend. We weren’t a small organization then but I know he always made it his mission to provide the personal and friendly touch.
      Thanks Barry! UFV is a better place for having had you here.
      My condolences to his family members.