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1932 Douglas 2023

Douglas Bombard

December 6, 1932 — December 31, 2023

Douglas Giles “Dougo” Bombard was born on December 6, 1932, at the old hospital in Saranac Lake. He was the second child of five, of Alfred Douglas Bombard, garage and gas station owner, and Charlotte Littlejohn, eventual manager of the Adirondack Store, both of Saranac Lake. Douglas grew up skiing in winter and fishing and hunting through the warmer months, ranging the river and woods with his friends and siblings when not working at his father’s garage. He learned to fly a plane and fix an engine. He had a job delivering flowers to curing tuberculosis patients in the cottages around town. He knew everybody. In the January when Doug was 16, his father and his father’s best friend Dr. Charles Haskins (village GP) were driving up the river to the Haskins family camp when their car went through the ice just a little way above the upper locks. When his father did not come home, Doug walked up the river and found the hole in the ice.

The next few years were lean to say the least. Doug and his family made do as best they could. There was a solitary coal stove in the kitchen and frost on the walls in winter. His mother had never written a check. His older sister, Natalie Bombard (Leduc) came home from school at St Lawrence. (She later taught at Paul Smith’s for years, locally taught generations of SL children to swim and ski, sold real estate, was caretaker at Pine Ridge and generally contributed in every which way to her village.) They sold the garage and gas station (which is now Amerigas on Church Street). Doug finished high school and immediately enlisted in the Navy in 1950, listing his family as dependents. He trained as an aircraft mechanic and machinist and was stationed in Florida, Cuba, Virginia and Newfoundland when not aboard carriers. He attended night school while in the Navy, taking Dale Carnegie business classes. He loved Newfoundland for its starkness and beauty, and he loved the evening shift. “I could get up just in time to make chow in the morning and then spend a few hours playing golf with the officers’ wives” He would grin while telling the tale. He never could turn away a pretty girl. (Shirley “Ham” and Dorothy you know this even now.)

Dougo loved the Navy and would have stayed, but despite acing the promotional exams, he was “unpromotable” because of the large number of WWII veterans still serving who (deservedly) got preference. By this time, Doug’s younger brother, Jon Bombard, had enlisted in the Army (at age 15, a bit of the malarkey in that one too. Jon grew up to be able to turn his hand to just about anything. And did.). His youngest brother, Jim Bombard (an immensely talented ski racer, colleague of Jean Claude Killy and ski designer for Head and K2), enlisted in the Air Force subsequently. With only his baby sister Madeline Bombard (Paleschi Wells, later a passionate wildlife advocate and environmentalist) at home with his mother, and without opportunity for advancement available in the Navy for at least 5-10 years, Dougo decided to come home.

He had some glorious summers, running the boat livery and the water ski school at the Saranac Inn, and delivering the Lower Saranac mail. He enrolled at Paul Smiths on a ski scholarship, competing quite successfully in Nordic, Ski Jumping and Alpine events. As part of his scholarship, he rucked a Ford engine uphill and built a rope tow one cold winter. When he complained to the dean that this was not what the basketball athletes had to do to earn their tuition, he was cautioned against measuring his worth by comparing himself to others. He never forgot it.

He graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a special interest in pastries and desserts. He later acknowledged that he probably needed the calories.

He was the general manager at Mt. Pisgah when Whiteface opened. He said, “it about sucked all the air right out of the place”. Everyone wanted to experience the new big thing. Dougo decided it was time to stretch his wings again.

He bought a building in Turn, NY and converted it into a Ski Dorm. He had little money, but he was ingenious. He fashioned walls from leftovers and plumbed washtubs into sinks. There were a piano and a kitchen and men’s and women’s bunk rooms, and joy and drink and song. He taught skiing at nearby Snow Ridge and met and befriended the likes of Rudy Kuersteiner, and Ish and Mike Arnold, and Tom Tinney. And he met a smart, beautiful girl named Louie Schaefer, who came to learn to ski. She was a gate agent at Mohawk Airlines, and a photographer, and a travel guide. She was athletic and funny and kind. She had a thousand-watt smile and she knew how to use it. He was smitten. They were partners for the next 61 years.

The dorm burned to the ground one winter, but as always Dougo landed on his feet. (“It’s the journey” he would say, when met with any adversity, of which he met many.) He had married Louie, and had befriended one Peter Noyes, who was busily running his family business, Oneida Silversmiths. “Pete” offered Dougo a job, and he began designing and selling trophies for the company, establishing accounts from the eastern seaboard to Denver, and even in Bermuda (there is a great photo of him there riding a moped, carrying a briefcase, wearing shorts and a sporty wine-colored blazer).

Dougo and Louie moved to Fayetteville, NY and spent their spare time skiing in winter and boating on the St. Lawrence with friends in the summer. They had a houseboat with a 20-horse motor in Alex Bay, which they laughingly named “Thunder”. In 1969, they bought land in Manlius, NY and built their dream home. In 1971, their only child, daughter Tiffany, was born.

Dougo worked variously buying and selling Tucker Snow Cats, quarry/explosive supplies, Euclid trucks, weigh batchers, conveyors and heavy construction equipment. He owned and ran a concrete company named Phoenix Ready Mix for a decade. He built conveyers. He ran a company which recycled building debris and slag. He bought, sold, flew, and re-built small airplanes with his friend Ron Jones and adopted son Brian Coughlin. He and Louie bought an RV they named Snoopy and vacationed in the Florida Keys when they could, eventually buying a home there which they exuberantly enjoyed with Bill Kellogg, Bev and Jim Buck, Dick and Shiela Byrnes, Paul and Twila Webb, Robert Sherman, Tommy and Sandy Burns and other deeply loved, merrymaking friends. Through it all, he skied and taught skiing, at Toggenburg with Dan Frank, Jim Morris and “Doc” Hickey, and at Whiteface with Aleks Smith, Eddi Kreil, Don Dew, Bart Hayes and the gang. He taught his daughter to carve a turn, understand physics, type a letter, hot prop an airplane and run a chainsaw. He was a wonderful father, colleague and friend.

Dougo and Louie moved back home to Saranac Lake in 2018, where he was known and loved by many. His last years were made more whole by Mim Millar, Bob Seidenstein, Don and Doris Hamm, Charlie Jerry, Laurie and Don Rumble, Sandy Hayes, Mary Weston and more. He continued to ski last year at age 90, and could still fashion a turn like no other.

Doug often was heard to say “if you fall without your head downhill, you weren’t really going for it”. Go for it he did. All the way.

Dougo is sadly predeceased by his wife, Louie, his parents and all of his siblings. He leaves behind about a million friends (please pardon me if I did not mention you by name. He loved you no less.) as well as his daughter Tiffany, who loves him deeply, his adopted daughter Theo Pirkl, adopted sons David Demand and Marc Minkler and Matt Morgan, his dog Lola, and his beloved nieces and nephews: Doug, Debbie, Michael and Kathy Corl; Dan Tromblee; Kimberly, Nancy, Madelyn, and Jon Bombard; James, Vincent and Charlotte Paleschi, and John and Cathy Pollard.

Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, 20 Church Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. There will be no calling hours per Doug’s wishes. Please send donations to Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad, who has served the family and our village with an amazing combination of skill and kindness for many decades. (PO Box 431Saranac Lake, NY 12983) Please send flowers to the Emergency Department staff at Adirondack Medical Center. Because, as we all know, they are awesome and in need of our love and thanks from us all.

A memorial service will be announced in the summer. Doug’s ashes will be scattered at Whiteface, which was his wish. Family and friends wishing to remember Douglas Giles “Dougo” Bombard may share a memory, leave a condolence and sign the on-line guest book at www.fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Douglas Bombard, please visit our flower store.

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