Marie Louise Bombard
Mary Lou was born April 13, 1934 in New York City to Irma Wenning Schaefer and William Schaefer, the youngest of three children.
She grew up with her sister, Irma, and brother, Bill, in Stamford, Connecticut and Clearwater, Florida. She was a graduate of Greenwich Academy in Connecticut and went on to major in art and art history at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York. While in school, she developed a love for travel and for photography and began co-leading photography tours of Mexico and Central America with her friend and mentor, Alice Stark, even before graduating from college. Her resulting photographs of daily life in Guatemala were featured in National Geographic.
By her mid-20s, she had moved to Syracuse (initially crowding into an apartment with five other girls and sleeping on an old door supported by blocks) and worked for Mohawk Airlines (which was subsequently bought by American Airlines) as a travel agent, gate agent and general girl of all trades. Her radio call sign was Lucky Strike. She filled every job at one time or another, minus actually piloting the planes.
One winter her friend, Mimi Speeno, another young firecracker, convinced her to try skiing. The two traveled to Snow Ridge, in Turin, New York, and took skiing lessons from the rapscallion Douglas Bombard of Saranac Lake. Louie and Dougo have been together ever since. Louie had long been an outstanding athlete, and soon became a strong and elegant skier, so much so that she was eventually a ski instructor and a ski patroller, and taught skiing at Snow Ridge as well as at Toggenburg Ski Center in Fabius, New York.
Despite (mostly economic) protests about the match by Louie’s parents, she and Dougo married in 1961. They spent their winters skiing and their summers riding their Honda dirt bike motorcycles in the hills of central New York, and they also spent considerable time on the St. Lawrence River, living aboard their houseboat (named Thunder). Louie’s continued work for the airline allowed them to travel widely, including a honeymoon in Europe and trips to Bermuda and to Hawaii, which she loved. It was during this time that they also adopted a love of the lower Florida Keys, where Louie had vacationed as a child with her parents and siblings, and where Louie and Doug would later snowbird and have many cherished friends.
In 1971, their daughter, Tiffany was born and Louie became a stay at home parent, a job into which she poured her heart. Her daughter could read and write before starting kindergarten, and grew up with confidence, strength and love. Louie worked intermittently, painting houses, and also had a snowplowing job, clearing an ice skating rink on the Erie Canal. She cared for friends, horses and chickens and dogs, she was the payroll clerk for Doug’s concrete business, and she became a master gardener, creating beautiful, expansive beds of perennials around their Manlius, New York home.
In 2019, Louie and Doug moved from Manlius to Vermontville to be close to Tiffany, who had settled there, and they continued to spend their winters among their friends in Big Pine Key. Her gardens in her new home also flourished, and can be seen there now if you come to visit. Louie died at home from pancreatic cancer on June 8, 2022. She is survived by her nephew John Pollard (Melbourne, Florida), her niece Cathy Pollard Larkin (Orange Park, Florida), her husband Doug Bombard, her daughter Tiffany Bombard, her son in law Matthew Morgan, her dog Lola Bombard, and many friends in many places who loved her deeply, long and well.
Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. Louie was very firm that she wanted no funeral or memorial service of any sort. She said: “Love me while I’m here.” And so it was.
Friends wishing to remember Marie Louise may make memorial contributions to The Nature Conservancy, P.O. Box 65, Keene Valley, NY 12943.