The Big Bear Valley is mourning the loss of a teacher and ski coach, much loved by many, who passed away over the Labor Day weekend. Mike Kompaniez, age 56, was husband to Nikki and father to twin daughters, Kari and Elysse, age 23. Friend and co-worker Steve Schour, principal at Chautauqua High School, tells KBHR, “Mike Kompaniez worked as the Snow Summit Junior Race Team director and as a teacher at Chautauqua High School for 29 years. He was a mentor and friend to thousands of Big Bear children and young adults. Mike made a positive difference in the lives of many students whose needs were not being met by the regular educational system. He had an amazing and unique way of relating to kids, and his absence will be deeply felt by Chautauqua High School, Snow Summit, and the entire Big Bear Valley.” When not in the classroom or on the slopes, longtime friend George Crezee says Kompaniez could be found on Big Bear Lake. As Crezee tells us, “Mike was a very loving, caring person, and had an incredible passion to go out and water ski on the lake in the morning—that’s what he did in the summer, and it was always enjoyable to be out there with him. Whenever you were with Mike, he was always giving you a big hug and an ‘I love you.’ He just adored his wife Nikki and, of course, his twins—there was nothing more important than his girls.” The family of Mike Kompaniez plans to hold a celebration of life in about a month’s time but, in the meantime, students have planned a candlelight vigil in his honor, which will take place at Chautauqua High School, on Maple Lane in Sugarloaf, at 6:30pm on Wednesday, September 9.
Update: A memorial celebration will be held on Saturday, October 10 from 1-4pm at Snow Summit’s Bear Bottom Lodge. Friends of Mike, Nikki, Kari and Elysse are asked to wear their favorite sweatshirt or Hawaiian shirt (no black), and bring stories to share. No-host bar and food will be available at this celebration in honor of Mike Kompaniez.