In all ways, Libby Bloom was a true companion to the husband she loved. She was just as devoted to the family she loved, and dedicated to the many who called her friend. It was a delight to share Libby’s company. With her happy-go-lucky nature, and carefree attitude, life to her was about living. She loved to laugh…. and quite loudly at times, but all will remember her tenacious, fun-loving spirit.
The Great Depression was a lowly time in the history of America. Creating hardship and struggle from coast to coast, the year 1933 was in particular one of the worst as financial famine rocked the country. Citizens found much to be thankful for, despite the adversity of the times. The premiere of King Kong took minds away from everyday worries, and the debut of the Lone Ranger brought many to gather around the radio. While the introduction of the Singing Telegram brought smiles to the faces of many, Wilbur Krauss Ament, (known as Bill), and his wife, Dorothy (Chandler) were rejoicing the June 19, 1933 birth of their precious little girl, Elizabeth.
Born in the community of Ash Grove, Missouri, Elizabeth was affectionately known as “Libby”, and was an only child. Her father, Bill was a merchant and later a highly successful and respected real estate agent in Indio CA, while her mother was a homemaker. Shortly after Libby was born the family moved to Pomona in 1940 where Bill started his career as a merchant in the family owned men’s clothing store called “Chandlers”. As a child Libby would spend time with Bill and Dorothy in the family store.
Libby attended elementary school in Pomona where she became a friend of many. She loved the warmth of sunny days, and the opportunity for adventure and fun-filled times. It was, however, in elementary school when the seeds of love were originally planted on Libby’s heart. Seated next to her in class, and arranged in alphabetical order, was Donald Darl Bloom (known as Don) with whom she would come to share all that life had to offer.
In 1951 during their senior year at Pomona High School, Libby re-connected with Don. Libby was a popular cheerleader, and Don played football and basketball on the school teams. In 1952, they both enrolled in college. Libby at the University of California in Santa Barbara and Don at the California Maritime Academy. Libby went on to earn her teaching credential. During this time, the “fire was lit forever” and their relationship took off in earnest. Wedding bells were soon to follow, and they were married on August 20, 1955 at Westwood Presbyterian Church in Westwood, California.
In 1955, after completing the California Maritime Academy, Don was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy, Libby as always stood by his side as his strongest supporter. During the course of his 28 year career, they moved eight times over long distances, which was no small feat considering the size of the Bloom household. Libby was always ready to hold down the fort and care for the couple’s five children: Mike, Debra, Louise, Margo, and Courtney. Libby was able to change hats/ roles frequently the trait of an experienced Navy wife, and was always there to supervise the movers, care for the kids, and help Don prepare for the next road trip ahead. In the early years of Don’s service, Libby became a master at survival cooking and food disguise. She was quite inventive during those sparse, financial days, and one of Mike’s favorite dishes she made included oatmeal with chopped hotdogs and Durkee onions. Her specialties also included awesome buttermilk pie, pork chop casserole, and watery spaghetti.
As a mother, Libby was attentive and looked out for the best interest of her children. She was compassionate, fun-loving, and was considered one of the “neat” mom’s in the neighborhood. One time, while her daughters were listening and dancing to The Jackson Five’s, “Rockin Robin”, Libby burst into the room and started dancing alongside them, and really got her, “freak on!” On Halloween, she liked getting dressed up like Phyllis Diller with a sparkly red dress, wig, long white gloves, and a black cigarette holder with her trusty laughing box in hand. Fond memories were shared in Virginia sitting on redwood lawn furniture watching The Carol Burnett Show, The Flip Wilson Show, and All in the Family with their mother.
Libby’s patience with her children was beyond compare. Even when Mike’s nightmares as a child found Libby come lovingly into his room, she quickly became his hero after throwing open the closet door and ordering all the “monsters” out. To calm him, she’d sit by his side, caressing his head, and tell him to just think good thoughts.
While living in Coronado in the 1960s, Don’s career as a naval aviator was well underway at the same time the Vietnam War was in full swing. Libby and Don forged numerous relationships during this time with other naval families, among them the Builds, the English’s and the Whites. Many years later, Libby spoke fondly of her warm relationships with Tula English, Dee Build, and “her sister”, Kasey Kath. In her free time, she enjoyed playing bridge and shopping with friends.
Libby was quite a car enthusiast and appreciated fine automobiles. While residing in Corpus Christi, Texas, Libby even talked Don into buying a 1970 yellow Cadillac Fleetwood with a brown, velvet interior. All five children could easily sit in the back seat, and Libby, at merely 5’2” tall, could barely see over the steering wheel! When she put on her Jackie Onassis sunglasses and got behind the wheel of that Caddy, she was like an early version of auto racer, Danica Patrick!
In 1978, Don retired from the naval service and in 1981 he and Libby moved back to Coronado to be near family and friends. Again, Libby was right at Don’s side when he began his second career as an appliance repairman. Libby and Don also volunteered their time to the Amateur Ham Radio Emergency Response Team. In addition, they were also members of The Optimist Club, The VFW Post, The Floral Association and various other clubs in Coronado.
Nearing full retirement in 1993, Libby and Don decided to purchase a brand new, 33 foot Ambassador RV which they outfitted for extended road trips. They put together an ambitious travel schedule which took them to many historical sites and places of interest. Their schedule included a drive across the country in 1994 that ended up in eastern Canada, where the RV was put on a ferry bound for Nova Scotia. They also embarked on a three and a half month Western excursion out of Bellingham, Washington where the RV was put on a ferry bound for Alaska.
While in Alaska, Don took up an interest in Alaskan Bush Planes, and got the itch to fly again. With Libby’s blessing, he bought a plane, and typical of Don, he decided to build it himself. Over the next five years, Libby and Don seemed to have lived at Gillespie field while building the plane. As soon as the plane was completed and the inspection was done, the plane was ready and they were raring to go. Libby and Don loved flying around San Diego and through the local mountains with Libby as always his back seat co-pilot.
When health issues forced Don to give up flying in 2004, Libby also began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Ever determined, Don was adamant about living their lives to the fullest. Despite their ongoing health issues, they purchased a new, 2004 red Jeep Wrangler and had it modified for extreme, off-road riding. They logged thousands of off-road miles through the Eastern Sierras and Southern California, and became active members of the San Diego Four Wheelers and Tierra Del Sol. On one particularly challenging run, Don managed to roll the Jeep with Libby in it. Although the jeep had minor damage, thankfully no one was severely injured. Don told his family, “There we were still strapped in our seats hanging upside down with your mother laughing hysterically she thought it was just the funniest thing”. After getting the Jeep fixed, they continued on jeeping like nothing ever happened!
In 2010, Don’s health took a serious turn. His biggest concern was that his beloved Libby would be well taken care of in his absence. After a courageous battle with cancer, Don died peacefully in March 2, 2011. surrounded by his family. As Libby’s Alzheimer’s progressed, she came to require fulltime care. Her daughters, Deb and Louise, took Don’s final wish as their mission, and for the next two years, they made sure Libby was comfortable and received the best care available. At the age of 80, Libby passed away on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 only after her five beloved children thanked her and said goodbye to her at the assisted residential living facility where she resided.
Gone but never to be forgotten, Elizabeth “Libby” Bloom was such a presence in the lives around her. She added much to every situation, and always with her own, unique flair. She is deeply missed.
Elizabeth is survived by her five, loving children: SOCM Michael Donald Bloom USN (Ret), Debra Bloom-Tase Suminski, Louise Bloom Shoudy, Margo Bloom Green, MSgt Courtney Chandler Bloom USAF (Ret) and their spouses; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A memorial service for Libby is scheduled for Monday, July 29, 2013, 1:30 PM at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California. Libby’s family is being served by the Suminski Family Funeral Home. To share a favorite memory and photo of her and to sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.