SARANAC LAKE — Jeanne De Mattos, a longtime resident of Saranac Lake, died Nov. 16, 2010, at the age of 92 from complications of a hip fracture.
Jeanne, as she liked to be called by everyone, young or old, was born in New York City on Jan. 1, 1918, daughter of Dr. Gustav Meyer, a research scientist at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City, and Paula Woarms Meyer.
She first came to Saranac Lake as a baby with her parents during the summer months, and continued to do so every summer throughout her youth, camping on Sable Island on Lower Saranac Lake.
Jeanne was graduated from Flushing High School and continued her education in business school, where she met Celine De Mattos, sister of her future husband. Jeanne and the late Jacques De Mattos (March 1989) were married in April of 1937. By 1940, they had made the decision to move permanently to Saranac Lake and purchased a farm on the Bloomingdale Road. For Jeanne and Jacques, this would be their lifelong home, although in 2006, Jeanne sold this home of 66 years to take up residence in Saranac Village at Will Rogers.
In 1952, Jeanne and Jacques bought the radio station WNBZ and operated it until 1963 when they sold it to Jim and Keela Rogers of Lake Placid. In 1969, they purchased “Meet the Town Saranac Lake” from Thomas Sheridan and soon after, began publishing the booklet for Lake Placid and Wilmington regions, as well.
Jeanne and Jacques were extremely community-minded people and both were very involved in many civic and charitable organizations.
Jeanne has always participated in library events such as the “All Male Bake Sale” in the ’50s and as committee chair of the annual “Come to the Fair.” She was: secretary to the board of trustees for many years, one of the founders of the membership committee and its publicity chair, the founder of the Brown Bag Lunch, in 1985, and its program coordinator. She also started the Winter Carnival celli concerts sponsored by the library. In 1997, a proclamation from the state Senate, sponsored by the late state Sen. Ronald B Stafford, recognized her years of service to the library. She was named to the library honor roll in 2000. In May of 2006, the Saranac Lake Free Library honored Jeanne for her over 50 years of volunteering in the Library and elsewhere. In a resolution, Essex County lawmakers praised Jeanne’s good works, calling her “an inspiration and example to others.”
Jeanne made innumerable contributions to the Saranac Lake community, including being a founding member of the Paint and Palette Art Association, Historic Saranac Lake, the Capricorn Lunch and Sister City Committee of which she served as president. She also served on the board of the Stevenson Cottage, as secretary of the North Country Community College foundation, president of the Saranac Lake Village Improvement Society and centennial member. She was radio and special events coordinator for the Saranac Lake Antiques Show and Sale, a program of the Saranac Lake General Hospital Auxiliary.
Jeanne was voted and named Citizen of the Year in 2001 by the members of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Although Saranac Lake has never had an official Welcome Wagon for newcomers to the region, Jeanne, with her actions, her generosity and her friendliness, was often one of the first persons people moving to the area met. She often introduced them to shopowners and other businesspeople who were able to help the new residents, but also was known to invite them to share a meal with her family. Of course, many of them were asked to participate in a program of the Brown Bag Lunch!
In their retirement years, Jeanne and her husband, Jacques, traveled extensively to foreign countries, as well as all around the U.S., meeting people and learning about new cultures. Among them count Guatemala, India and the western European countries of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland. One of their favorite voyages many years ago was a trip, with friends, on the Delta Queen down the Mississippi.
Jeanne will always be remembered for her positive attitude in life and her eternal optimism.
She is survived by her three children and their spouses: Edwina and Jacques Cormier of Cosne-sur-Loire, France, J Andrea and Wesley Gibson of Boise, Idaho and Jacques and Alice De Mattos of Saranac Lake and Clearwater, Fla.; her five grandchildren and their spouses: Lori of Denver, David of Milwaukee, Amy of Lake Placid, Ian of Larchmont and Jay of Waterford; and 12 great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours are private for the family only, but a celebration of her life for all of her many friends and acquaintances will be announced in the near future.
Friends wishing to remember Jeanne may make donations to the Saranac Lake Free Library, Historic Saranac Lake or to one of the many organizations for which she donated her time over the years, sending them to Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, Church Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.