Mount Pleasant remembers Dina Desormes, owner of Robaire's Bakery
Dina Desormes, owner of one Mount Pleasant's longest-running businesses, Robaire's Bakery, died April 4 at the age of 83.
Desormes is remembered by many in the community for her extraordinary life story, work ethic and the kindness she showed everyone who walked through her doors.
She was born on March 2, 1939, in France, the daughter of Gerard and Renee (Dykstra) Waanderes. Her childhood saw much warfare during World War II but it also served as an impetus for her compassion.
Her family took a huge risk when they hid two American pilots who had been shot down over their farm. One of those pilots later helped Desormes' family and her husband Robaire through the emigration process to America.
"One of Dina’s fondest memories is the cold trip on the ship crossing the ocean to America and the opportunities it brought to them," Desormes' obituary reads. "In 1994 Dina became a U.S. citizen. Dina and Robaire settled in Mount Pleasant and opened Robaire’s Bakery in 1961, which is now Mount Pleasant’s third oldest business."
From the first weeks in Mount Pleasant, Desormes made the city her home and selflessly gave back to the community.
Alexandra David, a professor of piano at CMU, is one of those community members that was touched by Desormes' kindness.
When David emigrated from Portugal 27 years ago to begin her role as a tenured professor, she and Desormes formed a bond over their backgrounds as immigrants.
David said Desormes "adopted her" and watched her as she was her own child. She remembers convening with other CMU professors at Robaire's and how her dogs would lick the flower and sugar of Dina's legs when she came to visit after a day at the bakery.
"All of my memories attached to Dina are beautiful," David said. "When I think of her I see her as the embodiment of beauty, her smile was a ray of sunshine. Her whole personality was welcoming."
Even after Robaire’s death in 1993, Desormes never slowed down. She woke every morning at 3:30 a.m., seven days a week, and arrived at the shop by 4 a.m. to prep the day's pastries.
The same groups of community members would visit the bakery multiple times a week for freshly baked pastries and coffee - but mostly just to see Dina.
"Those of us who call Mount Pleasant home became spoiled with the kindness she showered upon us, as well as her exceptional and creative bakery items featured at Robaire’s," Darcy Orlik, director of public relations for Mount Pleasant said. "As a young child wrote in a testimonial displayed on the bakery counter, 'Mount Pleasant is a special place to live because of Robaire’s.' Dina put Robaire’s Bakery and Mount Pleasant on the map, and has left a lasting impression on all of us."
Desormes is survived by her son Gerard (Margaret) Desormes of Mount Pleasant; grandchildren Rachel (Aaron Bock) Desormes of Schaumburg, IL, Jennifer Desormes of Mount Pleasant, and Veronica (Tom) Eitniear of San Antonio, TX; siblings Roger (Peggy) Dykstra, Mary Beth (Robert) Bruce, Denise Dykstra and Madeline (Michael) Spivey; and many nieces and nephews.
"Dina was a petite powerhouse who considered living in this community a privilege, and she exhibited that gratitude every day," Orlik said. "She was selfless, hard-working, kind, thoughtful and unwavering in her commitment to Mount Pleasant."