Mary L Lombard, Oct 27, 1933 - Nov 18, 2020, The 87-year earthly journey of that little girl from LaPorte, Mary L. Lombard, ended Wednesday, November 18, 2020, when she passed away peacefully at her beloved “Menke” Trail Creek homestead, Born Maria Ermajean Lomeli, to Ethel (Austin) Romero and Martin Lomeli in Indiana Harbor, East Chicago, IN, October 27, 1933, she was the youngest of five children to her then single mother.
Born during the height of the great depression, “little Mary”, was initially cared for by her older brothers, Victor, Elias, and David, while her mother worked the Railroad long hours to provide the very basics for her family. But as the depressive times wore on, it dictated a more adult-supervised upbringing for Mary and her mother brought her to LaPorte to be raised by maternal great aunt, Cordelia (Shaver) Hunt and her husband, Sylvester Hunt, in 1935. The Hunts then raised Mary, formally adopting her in 1937 and changing her name to Mary Louise Hunt. Growing up in the Hunt household and as a result of her adoption, afforded little Mary Louise to become fast childhood friends with her “nephew”, Hank (Henry) Woodard. Their friendship bond would continue through adulthood and until Hank's passing in 2014. But although Mary Hunt was a proud student of both St. John Lutheran elementary and LaPorte High School, she turned her studies, at age 17, to the person who would become the love of her life, then 19 yr old “Midge” Lombard of Waterford. While many of his close guy pals called him Midge or Ronnie or Dean, formally he was, Ronald Dean Lombard, the oldest son of VB and Vivian (Burklow) Lombard. And after a brief engagement, the two lovebirds married in March, 1951 and would spend the next 64 years together with an inseparable love for each other while traveling the world, raising a family and working together to start many businesses in throughout Northwest Indiana while making a home for their family in the Michigan City community.
From 1952-1976 the Mary and Ronald Lombard family resided first in Michigan City then, moving to Springfield, IL, Calumet City, IL, Aetna, Gary IN before moving back to Michigan City's Southgate neighborhood until their final move to “Woodsview on Menke” in Trail Creek, in 1976.
From early in their marriage Mary stayed at home and raised their three children and supported her husband in his various automotive ventures, like Lombard Rambler, Chesterton, IN, Hirsch Ford, Michigan City and Car Care Center, Michigan City. But in 1972, she took her own business ideas to opening the first local “women only” health center, the wildly popular Body Boutique figure salon in Evergreen Park Business Center, Trail Creek. She, along with her longtime general manager, Rosi Pappas, would then open additional Body Boutique salons in LaPorte and Valparaiso. And so with the fitness market filled with her loyal black tight “BB ladies” what better time than to open the dream business of her husband, an ice cream drive-in, Frosty Boy, Trail Creek and later another Frosty Boy, LaPorte.
With thriving businesses and friends alike, Mary and Ron traveled the United States together sometimes driving in their little red Pontiac Solstice convertible. Air Force and Notre Dame
football games were opportunities for cocktails, laughter and precious made memories for Mary and Ron and their friends. But for the ultimate fun, Mary would host one of her legendary Menke pool parties, with daughter Debra serving up frozen drinks poolside and Willie Nelson playing over the loudspeakers. This was heaven for Mary and her Ron. But if there was a challenge to her pool parties status, one simply has to ask one of her BB ladies staff about one of their hilarity filled charter bus rides into Chicago for a night out on the town, all courtesy of Mary.
But from small business operations to local politics, Mary then ran and was elected as the first-ever woman Michigan Township Trustee, in 1990. She would go on being elected to five consecutive terms- 20 years- as Township Trustee providing assistance and care to thousands of residents in need.
In recognition for her vast business and community-wide efforts, Mary Lombard was awarded the 1997 Athena Award from the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce Women in Management. Furthermore, she received recognition for her longtime service on the Stepping Stone Shelter Board of Directors in 2005. Also, she was awarded honorary membership to the Phi Alpha Honor Society Zeta Pi Chapter at Indiana University Northwest for her commitment to professional social work values and ethics and her dedication to community service in 2007. She was appointed and served on the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males (ICSSBM) and the Board of Directors of the Indiana Township Association (ITA) as Director of Northwest Indiana and locally, on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels; North Central Community Service Action Agency; Business and Professional Women; Michigan City Summer Festival, Miss Indiana pageant, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Northern Indiana Public Service Co CAP advisory committee.
A blessed and fulfilling life.
Mary L. Lombard is survived by two sons, Jeffrey and (Mary Carol) Lombard, Long Beach, IN and Bart Lombard, Trail Creek, IN; four grandchildren, Carrie (Kyle) McCroskey, Chicago, IL; Kelly (Joe) Craig, Granger, IN; Kevin Lombard, Chicago, IL and Connor Lombard, Indianapolis, IN; five great grandchildren, Leah McCroskey, Will Craig, Hannah McCroskey and Olivia and Evelyn Craig, and a multitude of nephews and nieces that provided their “Aunt Mary” with continual love and support throughout her extraordinary life.
Also surviving are two brothers, David and (Sandy) Romero, Hammond, IN and Angel Oliba, Macy, IN; cousin Raoul and (Arlene) Sanchez, Lawrenceburg, TN; in-laws, Mildred Romero, Lantana, FL; Mary Lou Romero, Pascagoula, MS; Esther Porter, Murray, KY; Patricia Dean, Indio, CA; Donald and Dorothy Lombard, Luther, OK; Wayman and Arlene Lombard, Boca Raton, FL, and Lloyd and Pennie Lombard, Michigan City. Also, she is survived by a longtime circle of faithful family friends, Rosi and George Pappas, Clarksville, TN; Robert and Joan Malackowski, Valparaiso, IN; Joe and Dora Clifford, Valparaiso, IN, Polly Dinsmore, Akron, OH; Judy and Billy Colgan, Cape Coral, FL; Norma Lewandowski, Sebring, FL; Betty and Willie Blackmon, Trail Creek, IN; Gloria and Paul Thode, LaPorte, IN; Kathy and Ed Norred, LaPorte, IN; June Rousseau Porostosky, Prosper, TX and Iona Woodard, Terre Haute, IN
She was preceded in death by her husband, Ronald Lombard (1933-2015) and daughter, Debra Lombard, (1952-1995). Also preceding her in death was her mother Ethel (Austin) Romero (1907-2005), adoptive parents, Sylvester (1871-1948) and Cordelia (Shaver) Hunt (1877-1961); brothers, Pedro (1926-1930), Victor (1927-1994) and Elias “Michael” Romero (1930-2005); adoptive brothers and sisters, Ovell, Perry, Merl, Barnum and Richard Hunt; Ruth (Hunt) Woodard and LuRetta (Hunt) Tarnow; sister-in-law Leona Oliba; Jacqueline Lombard, Joyce (Lombard) Moison, Laila (Levitte) Lombard brother in-laws Donald Dean, and her dear, close friend and confidant, former longtime Indiana state Representative Mary Kay Budak (May, 2020).
In recognition of the dangerous spike of Covid-19 infection, the family announces there will be no visitation or service at this time. A private burial will take place.
It is the hope that at some later date, and in a post-Covid-19 environment, a celebration of life for Mary L Lombard can be announced.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank the entire staff and medical personnel of Dunes Hospice, Valparaiso, for their compassionate and skilled care of our Mother during her in-home hospice care. Ott/Haverstock Funeral Chapel, Michigan City, IN is in charge of her burial arrangements.
Mary L. Lombard made it known that any donations in her memory be made to: the Footlight Players, 1705 Franklin St, Michigan City, IN 46360 or Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, 722 IN 212, Michigan City, IN 46360 or to the donors choice. To sign a guest book and leave condolences online visit our website at www.otthaverstock.com.
Whether known as Mary, Miss Mary, Mrs. Lombard, ML, Aunt Mary, Nana or simply, friend, above all she was mother...my mother, and a woman like no other. She gave me life, held me, taught me, fought for me, but most importantly, she loved me unconditionally. There are not enough words to describe just how important my mother was to me and what a powerful influence she will forever remain within me. Mother, I Love you