Abbotsford co-founder of Love Guatemala passes away

Phil Bergen died on April 13 and a celebration of life takes place on April 30 in Abbotsford

Phil Bergen of Abbotsford greets a woman in Guatemala

Phil Bergen of Abbotsford greets a woman in Guatemala

An Abbotsford man who, with his wife, formed an organization to help people in Guatemala died on April 13 of a heart attack.

Phil Bergen, 62, passed away while serving in the Central American country where he and his wife, Judy, had been living.

The couple have been part of Abbotsford for the last 25 years, working in the community and local churches.

Phil originally worked at Town and Country Floor Design and, more recently, had been doing home renovations.

His son-in-law Cam Hall said Phil was known for his vibrant personality and caring nature.

“Those he met and knew were often greeted with a hug, and always with a smile. He was the type of person that brightened a room and made you feel welcome and accepted,” said his son-in-law Cam Hall.

After a trip to visit one of their three children in Guatemala many years ago, Phil and Judy felt called to respond to the needs of the Guatemalan people.

They sold their home, discarded most of their possessions and moved to Guatemala.

They formed an organization called Love Guatemala and invited other Canadians to give time and/or money.

Over the coming years, Love Guatemala flourished. Many teams arrived from North America and many needs were met, including building houses for widows, planting crops on behalf of local farmers and feeding people at their local soup kitchen.

Phil was well-known in the Guatemalan communities where he and Judy worked. He was often greeted with a cheerful call of “Felipe!” as he walked the streets.

Phil suffered a heart attack while serving people in the soup kitchen, and quickly passed away.

A celebration of life takes place in Abbotsford on Thursday, April 30 at 1 p.m. at Northview Community Church, 32040 Downes Rd.

Donations for Love Guatemala can be made at ctenc.ca/bergen.

For more information on this project, visit luvsent.wordpress.com.