CAPE ELIZABETH – On a chilly morning in late November, Lester Lombard walked with his cane and ski pole toward the cornfield at Anderson Farms in Dayton to hunt crows.

His son, Russell Lombard, helped his father set up crow decoys and camouflage netting. The older Lombard then used a device to call the crows to the field. The wind was awful that day, blowing at about 40 mph. He managed to shoot two crows.

“It wasn’t easy, but that’s what he lived for,” his son said, noting it was the last time he hunted with his father. “He was the best friend I ever had. He took me out hunting for 30 years, and I took him out for the last 20. Every day we went out there, it was a blessing.”

Mr. Lombard, who owned and operated a greenhouse on Mitchell Road for about 40 years, died early Monday in his sleep. He was 98.

Mr. Lombard grew up in Cape Elizabeth and started hunting when he was 8 years old. He hunted game birds such as ducks, partridges, pheasants, turkeys and woodcocks. He also hunted rabbits, deer, moose and pretty much everything else he had a permit for.

“He loved the thrill of hunting,” his son said. “He lived for it. … He loved being in the woods with his dogs, hunting fox and rabbits.”

At age 90, Mr. Lombard’s name was drawn in the state’s annual lottery for a moose hunting permit. That year, he shot a 615-pound bull. He also shot a 605-pound bull in 2004 on his son’s permit. Mr. Lombard’s name was drawn again last year, but the physical demands of hunting moose were too much for him.

Mr. Lombard also was an avid trapper who caught beavers, otters, minks, muskrats and other animals to sell their fur.

A collection of animals he hunted are scattered as trophies through his Cape Elizabeth home.

In recent years, he and his son shot crows at several farms across southern Maine. His son explained that one crow could eat up to an acre of freshly planted corn. Farmers would use the dead crows he shot to ward off crows flying overhead.

“If anyone had a crow problem, he was the guy people called,” his son said. “He was known far and wide (as) a top-notch wing shot. … We enjoyed hunting the crows, and the farmer benefited from it. It was a win-win.”

Bill Jordan, an owner of Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth, said on Monday that his crow problem in late August was gone after Mr. Lombard spent an afternoon there.

“He put the fear of God in them,” Jordan said. “The crows didn’t want to come back. He had a lot of fun, and it did a lot of good for us.”

He was remembered by his family and friends on Monday as a good guy who worked hard and lived simply.

Mr. Lombard owned and operated the former Lombard’s Greenhouses.

He took over the business from his father in the early 1950s and operated it with his wife, Henrietta Lombard.

The couple sold perennials, annuals and some vegetables.

“He had quite a green thumb,” his son said. “He liked to see stuff grow. He sure as heck didn’t do it for the money.”

Mr. Lombard and his wife were married for 70 years. His son said they were happy together.

He said his mother is struggling to cope with his passing.

“She is coping with it, but not so well,” he said. “She’s been with him for 70 years. We’re all going to have to get through it. You can’t live forever, although we thought he was going to.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]