Died: July 19, 2000
Children: Natalie Leduc, Douglas, Jon, Jim, Madelain
Charlotte Littlejohn Bombard married A. Douglas Bombard, who died in 1949, age 45.
She was the daughter of James W. Littlejohn, one of the first forest rangers of New York state; Littlejohn Mountain on Route 86 is named for the family.
Her mother, Gertrude Bliss married Edward Field, a relative of Cyrus West Field who laid the transatlantic cable. Her brother, James W. Littlejohn, was an early sports director of the Lake Placid Club.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 20, 2000
Charlotte B. DeSormo
Charlotte Bombard DeSormo, 92, of 246 Lake Street, Saranac Lake, died of old age, Wednesday, July 19, 2000 at the Uihlein Mercy Center in Lake Placid, where she had been a resident since Jan. 19, 2000.
Born on Feb. 8, 1908 in Lake Placid, she was the daughter of James and Gertrude (Bliss) Littlejohn.
She married A. Douglas Bombard on July 4, 1928 in Canada. In 1949, she was widowed when her husband "Doug" Bombard drowned, leaving her to raise five young children. After his death, she "rolled up her sleeves," went to work and raised them all. She later married Maitland C. DeSormo in 1981 in Saranac Lake. He predeceased her in 1993.
Mrs. DeSormo was a lifelong resident of the Saranac Lake area. She was employed as a skiing instructor to children during the early years that Mount Pisgah was open. She was also a licensed cosmetologist. She later worked at various businesses for many years, including the Louise Curley Gift Shop, the Lake Placid Museum and the Adirondack Store. She also worked at the Algonquin School in Saranac Lake.
Mrs. DeSormo was an avid woodswoman, mountain climber, cross-country skier, golfer and alpine skier. She was a member of the Saranac Lake Golf Club and Ladies of the Elks. She was also greatly interested in local history and was an extremely good artist, specializing in wildlife and outdoor scenes. Her paintings were coveted. Her brother, James Littlejohn, was the first sports director at the Lake Placid Club, and her father was one of the first forest rangers in New York state. Littlejohn Mountain, located on Route 86, was named after the family, and she was well-known as the "queen of the garage sales."
Survivors include three sons and two daughters-in-law, Douglas and Marc Bombard of Manlius, Jon B. and Ria Bombard of Saranac Lake and James W. Bombard of Saranac Lake; one daughter, Natalie Bombard Leduc of Saranac Lake, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by one daughter, Madelain P. Weils, in 1998 and one brother, James W. Littlejohn in 1978.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Saranac Lake Free Library in care of the funeral home.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 15, 2000
The answer behind all the questions
By Bob Seidenstein
When Charlotte Bombard Desormo died this summer, I lost one of my oldest friends.
When I say one of my oldest friends, I mean it in both senses of the word: She lived into her 90s, God love her; plus l knew her my entire life.
Although she remarried late in life, to me she was always Mrs. Bombard. It's one of those odd things - you call someone Mrs. So and So for half your life; and then when they suddenly switch their marital status and name, you're too stuck in time to adapt to it.
And even though I know she wouldn't have minded, I could never have called her Charlotte for the same reason.
There's a lot I remember about Mrs. Bombard.
For one thing, she had the biggest and brightest smile of anyone I've ever known. And if you think I'm exaggerating, just ask anyone else who knew her. I guess the best way I can describe her smile is to say that when she smiled — which was often — the whole street lit up.
Something else about Mrs. Bombard — she was as tough as a pair of old leather ski boots. And that's an apt comparison, since Mrs. Bombard was a lifelong skier. And what a skier she was. I know for a fact in her 70s she'd regularly cross-country ski 20 miles or more. In her 80s, she cut back to a mere 12 or 14 or so.
Another thing about her I admired from the time I was a child was her outspokenness. I was always intrigued that an adult was so forthcoming, especially with a kid. But I don't think it was any big deal to her — she just called it the way she saw it.
And one last thing that set Mrs. Bombard apart was she had a horse sense, a wisdom that was all her own. When I was young, I only sensed it. I came to understand it in my 30s. It all came to light in a conversation we had one day on Berkeley Square.
Bright light and insight
lt was in the middle of winter, and it was one of those windless, frigid days when the sun is so bright and its reflection off the snow so blinding, your eyes'll ache even if you're wearing shades.
We just happened to run into each other, and of course we started chatting. I asked her what she'd beer, up to; she told me she'd been skiing a bit — though not as much as she'd like to.
She asked about my family; I told her everyone was fine.
Then we talked about Mt. Pisgah in the old days, when they had only rope tows. I told her how I remembered when on the slushy days the rope got soaked and seemed to he made of cast iron, I thought I was going to be the only kid in the whole history of the Petrova school to have a triple hernia.
And so on and so forth.
Suddenly Mrs. Bombard stopped talking. A long moment went by. Then apropos of nothing in our conversation, she said, "You know what I remember best about you when you were a little boy, Bobby?"
I told her I didn't.
"You were always asking questions. About everything. To everyone. All the time.
"I knew it was just because you were so curious. Bui I also knew a lot of people wouldn't understand that, and all those questions would only annoy them.
"But you kept asking them anyway, because that's who you were. And that' s who you were going to be."
She paused a moment and then went on "And right then, I knew you and your questions were going to make lot of trouble for yourself.
I didn't say anything. I just shrugged my shoulders and nodded.
The reason I didn't say anything was because I had nothing to say — it was because I was remembering too much.
I remembered all those times I ticked off people by asking them questions. I knew they got mad, but I had no idea why. After all, I just looking for answers.
Besides, I was a kid — I thought asking questions all the time was normal. But that's a problem with being a kid — it takes time to learn "normal." Just as it takes time to learn racism, classism, sexism, and all the rest, just as it takes time to learn who to ask questions of and who not to ask.
Eventually, of course, I learned who to ask and who not to ask. I also learned the people who most hate the question are those least likely to know the answer.
That day I didn't tell Mrs. Bombard how much I appreciated her insight. Nor did I tell her afterwards. When I heard she'd died, I felt lousy I'd never shared that with her, never told her how much her understanding meant to me.
At least I felt lousy at first. I don't feel bad about it anymore.
As I said, Mrs. Bombard was a wise woman — I'm sure she already knew how much I appreciated her understanding.
I'm also sure she knew how much I appreciated everything else about her as well.