In Celebration of

William "Bill" Rompkey

May 13, 1936 -  March 21, 2017

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 an 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, 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, for the 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.

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 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.

We would like to acknowledge the medical community in Ottawa. The staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital, especially the Civic Campus and the Ottawa Heart Institute have been wonderfully supportive and caring. Bill received the utmost care. Donations may be made to the Canadian Liver Cancer Foundation, the Ottawa University Heart Institute and Memorial University of NL.

A Memorial Reception will be held at Beechwood Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Services in Ottawa on Monday, March 27th from 7 pm until 9:30 pm, with Words of Remembrance at 8 pm. Visitation will take place in St. John’s, NL on March 30th at Carnell’s Funeral Home. Funeral service at the Anglican Cathedral on March 31st.


(5 of 33)

Carol Chafe (Friend)

Entered March 24, 2017 from Oxford Mills, Ontario

Please accept my sincere condolences on the recent passing of Mr. Rompkey. I worked with him as Clerk of two Standing Commitees of the House of Commons prior to his appointment to the Senate. It was over those years that we discovered how small the world really is and that it is particularly true for those born and bred in Newfoundland - he had been the Best Man and I, the junior bridesmaid at the wedding of my aunt and uncle - Carol and Bill Squires.
I treasure the memories of working with him and his ability to keep the work of the committees on track without alienating the members of the opposition, using the tools of humour and knowledge to keep a sense of calm and order.
He will be missed.
Carol Chafe

Tim Powers (Friend)

Entered March 24, 2017 from Ottawa

Bill was a first class person. A true gentleman. A strong advocate for Newfoundland and Labrador.
He helped show me the ropes in Ottawa and demonstrated that good guys can get ahead.
He always had a warm smile and offered wise words.
To Carolyn and family thank you for sharing him with us.


Katie and Doug Kinnear (Friends)

Entered March 24, 2017 from Montreal

Dear Carolyn, Hilary and Peter
Please accept our deepest sympathy. We loved Bill and the wonderful things he did for Labrador and Labradorians. In particular, the Christmas on the Hill parties that we were lucky enough to attend. Those parties were a way for Labradorians to meet each other and to stay in touch. What a gift he, and you Carolyn, gave us then. The music stands out and his great sense of humour. He was loved by my parentsViolet and Bill Moores of Cartwright too. We are sorry we cannot be at the Memorial but will be in touch before too long.
Katie and Doug Kinnear

Gary and Ruth Green (Friend)

Entered March 24, 2017 from Portugal Cove, NL

Our heartfelt sympathy to you Carolyn and your family. Bill was such a caring and kind gentleman. With kindest regards. Gary and Ruth

Michelle Baikie (Friend)

Entered March 24, 2017 from Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Carolyn, Hilary (Joel, Max and Ana), and Peter, please know I am thinking of you during this difficult time. My condolences and prayers to you and your family. Senator Romppkey will be missed by those who have known him as a statesman, politician and most importantly a family friend I have known since childhood through my late parents, Harry and Ruby. Rest In Peace Senator Rompkey.


(5 of 100)