Rye, NH – Eliseo Pombo Jr., 81, of Summerland Key, FL, passed away peacefully in his sleep, at his daughter’s home in Rye on Monday, January 16, 2023, with family at his side.
He was born on September 30, 1941 in Güines, Cuba, a son of the late Eliseo and Asuncion (Valdez) Pombo. Raised in Havana, Cuba until emigrating to the United States in 1960 at the age of 18 with his younger brother, a $500 travelers check and the clothes he was wearing, he was a living embodiment of the American Dream.
Starting as a wage laborer in the leather tanning business in New Jersey, he worked to support his brother and parents while attending college classes at night. He dedicated himself to learn the leather business, as his father did before him, and he was steadily promoted to positions of ever greater responsibility. His career in the leather business took him to managerial positions in Spokane, WA, Kansas City, MO, Memphis, TN, St. Joseph, MO and Berwick, ME. During his career, he traveled all over the world, and oversaw the design and construction of leather tanning facilities in Memphis, Spokane, Rochester, NH, Taiwan and mainland China. Upon retirement, he had risen to the title of Chief Operating Officer of Prime Tanning, the largest tannery in the United States, before joining the Board of Directors.
It was in his early days in New Jersey that he also met the love of his life, Victoria Flora Garcia, who also fled from Cuba at the age of 16 with her sister. They married, raised two children and shared many adventures that included a lot of parties and dancing and laughter before cancer took Vicky from him in 1990.
Eliseo loved to sail. He bought his first sailboat in 1978, and sailed whenever he had free time, first in the lakes around Memphis and then in Kansas, and then in Casco Bay, Maine when he moved to New Hampshire. When he retired, he bought a 40-foot boat that he kept in the Caribbean, and would live on the boat with his 2nd wife, Loren, for half of the year, sailing from island to island. At the start of hurricane season, they would take the boat out of the water and spend the summer in Portsmouth, NH. When they tired of life on the boat, they settled in Summerland Key, FL, where they would spend their days on the boat and nights playing dominos and drinking rum with the community of friends that they met in the Keys.
This chronology of his life doesn’t convey the type of man that Eliseo was. He was intensely competitive and hated to lose, and a determination to succeed that drove him all of his life. Yet he had an engaging energy that was effervescent and won him friends wherever he went. He was quick with a smile and a story, and had an easy laugh. He was a tough negotiator, but always fair. Eliseo was a great leader, and is remembered fondly and with respect from all that knew him in is his professional life. He loved cars, and driving them fast, and chronicled his life by which car he was driving at the time. He loved a good party and would often be the last one up dancing, or playing drums, or dominoes and asking what is next as people grabbed their coats. If you ever sailed with Eliseo, you likely have an adventure story of your own to share: he liked to push the envelope. Until his diagnosis, he continued to bike 11 miles 3x per week at the age of 80. Plainly, Eliseo Pombo was a force, and will be missed by so many. We lost a bright life this week.
Surviving family members include his children Daniel E. Pombo and Mariela Pombo, and her spouse Matthew Garthwait; his ex-wife, Loren Davila Pombo and stepchildren Carlos Quinones and his spouse Cynthia Travers; Kristen Quinones; and Kim Taylor and her spouse Clay; grandchildren Maya Garthwait, Lucas Pombo, Alex Pombo, Isabel Pombo, Carolina Pombo, Gabriela Pombo; and brother, Manolo Pombo and his spouse Josie.
A memorial service for Eliseo will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, January 28th at St. Michael’s Church in Exeter, NH. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Eliseo’s beloved church in the Keys, St. Peter the Fisherman, which took extensive damage during Hurricane Irma by clicking here.