His smile would light up a room. Quick with a joke, and always a twinkle in his eye, Bairy Marchuk was an integral part of the Chilliwack Progress family for nearly four decades.
Sadly, Bairy passed away last week. He was 64.
For those who knew him and worked with him, his passing leaves a hole that won’t soon be filled.
It wasn’t the 37 years he spent working at the paper that earned him the nickname “Mr. Progress.” It was his commitment to his clients and his willingness to listen and to learn.
He built relationships with customers who would soon become friends. In fact, says Progress ad manager Chris Franklin, some of his clients today are the children of clients he always had time for in the past.
But it was his sense of humour that most people talk about.
“He was always a total people person who had to talk to everyone he came across,” says Maureen Tempel, who worked with him in the same department for years. “He loved to tease people, but he could always take a joke as well, in fact, he welcomed it.”
Maureen remembers one time when a client came in to see Bairy, who wasn’t there at the time. He left his name which Maureen and a colleague promptly forgot. Their solution was to draw a picture of the man and attach it to sticky note on his desk.
“Bairy laughed hysterically even though he was a little upset that he didn’t know who had come to see him!” she says. “He thought it was so funny that he kept the note all these years and brought out every now and then for a laugh.”
Bairy did have his serious side, particularly in his expectations of others, remembers Sharon Harmsen. But he always had time to laugh. “He made the office fun,” she says. “More offices need fun!”
Bev Bilski worked with Bairy for 24 years. “You cannot think about Bairy without a smile,” she says.
“I miss the twinkle in his eye… especially when he was up to no good; that grin of his that was so contagious.”
He also earned the nickname “Care Bear” for the concern he showed for others.
“Bairy was our confidant, and most of all our comrade,” says Bev.
The admiration and appreciation is not only held by Bairy’s colleagues at The Progress.
Since news of his passing was posted on The Progress’ Facebook page, the words of kindness and acclaim have poured in.
“Always had time for a chat when he came in for business,” writes one. “Always asked about my family and gave me updates on his son’s family. He was a proud father and grandfather.”
Writes another: “Truly a great man taken much too soon. Have known Bairy for 30+ years and he will be missed by all he came in contact.”
In all, there are nearly 170 comments on the page, written by friends, clients, or people who bumped into him in the local grocery store.
“Bairy was one incredibly positive man who always made me feel better just being around him,” reads another post. “He has left a legacy in our community of how a smile and a sense of humour can lighten the heart and touch a person profoundly.”
• A celebration of life for Bairy will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, 9201 Corbould St.
The Progress office will be closed Monday afternoon.