Mary Lou was born on April 13, 1934 in New York City to Irma Wenning Schaefer and William Schaefer, the youngest of three children.
She grew up in Stamford, Connecticut and Clearwater, Florida with her sister, Irma, and brother, Bill. She is a graduate of Greenwich Academy in Connecticut and studied art and art history at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York. She developed a love of travel and photography during her school years and began leading photo tours of Mexico and Central America with her friend and mentor, Alice Stark, 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 (originally crammed into an apartment with five other girls and slept on top of an old door supported by blocks) and worked for Mohawk Airlines (later bought by American Airlines) as a travel agent. Gate agent and general girl for all professions. Her radio callsign was Lucky Strike. Eventually, she’s filled every job aside from actually flying the planes.
One winter her friend Mimi Speeno, also a young cracker, persuaded her to try skiing. The two traveled to Snow Ridge in Turin, New York, and took skiing lessons from Saranac Lake rapcallion Douglas Bombard. Louie and Dougo have been together ever since. Long a superb athlete, Louie soon became a strong and elegant skier, so much so that she eventually became a ski instructor and ski patrol, teaching skiing at Snow Ridge and the Toggenburg Ski Center in Fabius, New York.
Despite (mainly economic) protests from Louie’s parents about the match, she and Dougo married in 1961. They spent their winters skiing and their summers riding their Honda dirt bikes in the hills of central New York, and they also spent a lot of time on the St. Lawrence River, who live aboard their houseboat (named Thunder). Louie’s continued work for the airline allowed them to travel widely, including honeymoons in Europe and trips to Bermuda and Hawaii, which she loved. It was also during this time that they discovered their love for the lower Florida Keys, where Louie had vacationed with her parents and siblings as a child, and where Louie and Doug later had snowbirds and many cherished friends.
In 1971 their daughter Tiffany was born and Louie became a homemaker, a job she put her heart into. Her daughter was able to read and write before kindergarten and grew up with confidence, strength and love. Louie worked part-time, painting houses and also had a snowplough job clearing an ice rink on the Erie Canal. She took care of friends, horses, chickens and dogs, she was a payroll clerk for Doug’s concrete business, and she became a master gardener, planting beautiful, expansive herb beds around her home in Manlius, New York.
In 2019, Louie and Doug relocated to Vermontville from Manlius to be near Tiffany, who had settled there, and continued to spend their winters among their friends in Big Pine Key. Her gardens at her new home also flourished and can now be viewed there if you come to visit. Louie died at home of pancreatic cancer on June 8, 2022. She is survived by her nephew John Pollard (Melbourne, Florida), niece Cathy Pollard Larkin (Orange Park, Florida), husband Doug Bombard, daughter Tiffany Bombard, her son-in-law Matthew Morgan, her dog Lola Bombard and many friends at many Places they loved deeply, long and well.
The Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake is responsible for arranging the funeral. Louie was very adamant that she did not want any funeral or memorial service. She said: “Love me while I’m here.” And so it was.
Friends who wish to remember Marie Louise can make memorial donations to The Nature Conservancy, PO Box 65, Keene Valley, NY 12943.