Elizabeth “Betty/Liz” Shirley Charbonneau (nee Trombly) returned home to the LORD on Sunday March 19, 2023, in Pittsboro, NC.
Born at home on February 16, 1937, in Chazy, NY to Clarence and Evelyn Trombly (nee Ducharme) Betty was preceded in death by her parents, brother Gerald Trombly, sister Elnor Gonyo and stepmother Anna Mae Trombly.
Mom lost her mother Evelyn at a young age and was raised by her stepmother Anna Mae Trombly (nee Trudeau) after her father remarried in 1943. She especially enjoyed spending time with her grandparents Ducharme. Life on the farm was hard work but she was no stranger to this.
She was awarded Valedictorian of Chazy Central Rural School Class of 1955 and also received the Babe Ruth Athletic award. Her first job was in the office at a Chazy Orchards. Her professional career began in Plattsburg, NY at Vanity Fair Paper Mill in a secretarial position and then at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital where she was a medical transcriptionist.
In 1960, Betty met a young Airman, Wilfred Charbonneau Jr, at a dance in Plattsburg at the American Legion. He was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base at the time. They were engaged and were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Chazy on June 24, 1961.
Two children quickly followed, with the birth of April Joy in April of 1962 and Wilfred in March 1963. Life was difficult for her; raising two young toddlers in a home under construction on Slosson Rd. Dad had been reassigned to Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts and commuted home on the weekends for five years to work on the home. Mom’s love of gardening and plants began here and continued throughout her lifetime. She had a green thumb!
Military Orders were received in 1964 and the young family were to report to Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii in February 1969. It was hard for her to leave her family and the North Country. The cross-country flight was the first for all and they arrived in the evening to a new, sweet-smelling tropical paradise.
A third child, Mark Joseph soon arrived at Tripler Army Medical Center in 1969. This son was born with medical challenges which our mother bravely faced. Repeated trips to the hospital and consultations with ENT specialists were numerous as this infant developed. It was then that Mom began journaling to record her joys, sorrows and hopes. Her journaling continued throughout her life.
Despite the challenges of their youngest son, Betty made the best of the of her time in Hawaii. She enjoyed ceramic classes at a local school and made many beautiful free-form ceramic items. She enjoyed Hawaiian music and learned to play the ukulele and even attempted to learn how to drive Dad’s stick shift Volkswagen Beetle. Mom was always encouraging and supporting of us children in our scouting events. We always took a weeklong beach vacation at Bellows Air Force Recreational Area and visited two additional Hawaiian Islands.
New military orders relocated the family in 1973 to San Antonio Texas, home of Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. This is where our youngest brother would undergo multiple surgeries accompanied by the worries and prayers of our mother. Mom and Dad would reside in San Antonio for 41 years.
During the early years in San Antonio, Mom was a homemaker. She was active in the CHAP program (Children Have a Potential) through the Air Force community and formed many friendships with the parents of other children with disabilities. Most popular was the CHAP summer swimming program. This encouraged mom to learn how to swim!
Mom enjoyed sewing and submitted a picture of a floor length pink dress made for April into a sewing contest. She entered a potato chip sweepstakes contest and won a Free Spirit 1976 Bicentennial edition ten speed bicycle which was kept as a surprise for Dad until his birthday in July. She had a soft spot for animals, many abandoned cats and dogs found their way to Mom, were nurtured, and in turn became beloved pets.
Having excellent secretarial skills and accounting abilities, Mom fulfilled roles as the Secretary and then Treasurer for the local neighborhood community civic organization PACE People Active in Community Effort. She served on the board of this organization for many years.
After all the kids were in school, Mom returned to her first career as a medical transcriptionist and was employed at Southwest General Medical Center. She attended Palo Alto Community College and
graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1993 with an Associate Degree in Office Systems Management. Mother was a lifelong learner, she loved books and educating herself.
Mom and Dad started taking dancing lessons and learned many types of dances but especially enjoyed ballroom dancing. They formed many relationships with other couples and would go dancing several weekends a month. The Roaring 20’s dance club was their favorite and Mom always enjoyed dressing up to go out dancing.
Traveling was an interest for Mom; she always wanted to see the National Parks out West; they took an extended trip in the Fall of 1997; she was thrilled to see Mt. Rushmore and Yosemite National Park. Being a North Country native, Mom and Dad returned to the house on Lake Shore Road and spent the summer months there for many many years. She returned to Chazy for 2 weeks just last August and was able to celebrate a reunion with her remaining high school classmates of 1955 and reunite with a dear friend.
Residing in San Antonio for the majority of her life, Mom developed an affinity for the San Antonio Spurs and fervently followed their NBA games. Mother loved backyard games of croquet and always played the yellow ball because this was her favorite color.
In 2014 Mom and Dad left Texas and relocated to the Elms of Charleston Retirement Community in North Charleston SC to be closer to family. Mom and Dad and their dog Betsy formed many friendships with the
residents: Mom said the Elms “felt homey”. She looked forward to the monthly calendar and selecting their activities. Having Mom and Dad closer to family afforded the opportunity to celebrate many family events and holidays and create cherished memories. We had just celebrated her 86 birthday in February.
Mom is survived by her spouse of 62 years, Wilfred, Daughter April Cheesborough (Jim), Son Wilfred “Jerry” Charbonneau (Sonja), Son Mark Charbonneau (Fiancée Jennifer Finley), Granddaughters Rochelle Black (Burley), Hannah, Caroline and Madeleine Cheesborough, Annalia and Wilfred Jacob Charbonneau and Great grand children Aralyn, Burley IV, Khaleesi, and Sylas Black.
Mom was a Communicant of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Goose Creek SC. Her Funeral Mass is scheduled for Friday April 28th, 2023, at 10:00 am.
She will be remembered forever with great love and will be missed beyond measure. She was a kind and generous with her talents and treasure. We will see her again in Paradise.
Donaldson Funeral Home and Crematory is honored to serve the Charbonneau family. www.DonaldsonFunerals.com