Cover photo for Joan Downing's Obituary
1932 Joan 2020

Joan Downing

April 25, 1932 — April 25, 2020

Joan Marie Downing, 88, of Sherborn, MA and Lyndonville, VT passed away peacefully on July 11, 2020 surrounded by her family at her home in Lyndonville, VT.

Joan was born in 1932 and grew up in North Weymouth, Massachusetts. As a child she rode her bike to deliver newspapers during World War II. Joan was the head majorette in her high school marching band, and her love of baton twirling followed her throughout her life, all the way to teaching her great grandchildren the figure eight.

After high school she worked at Jordan Marsh Department Store. Joan also coached a competitive baton twirling team, The Joanettes, and once performed for Babe Ruth at Fenway Park.

Joan met Richard, the love of her life, in high school, but didn’t fall for him until he returned home in his Navy blues. Together they raised four children of their own, adopted three sons, and fostered over 30 more children. They welcomed many international families and students, once hosting a family of 6 refugees from the Cuban revolution in 1960. Their home was always filled to the brim and overflowing with love.

Throughout her life she enjoyed cooking, painting, and flower arranging. For several years, she and her dear friend, Nancy Kickham, owned and operated Peacock Crossing, a flower shop in Sherborn, MA.  She was a fiercely competitive Scrabble player!

Joan was devoted to her Catholic faith. It was not unusual to see a stack of religious books and Rosary beads at her side. She was a part of and hosted several prayer groups.  She taught her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren kindness, generosity, and forgiveness by the example of her life. She was profoundly faithful and family oriented. She was a wonderful storyteller, had a great sense of humor and her smile could light up a room. The Chapel of the Holy Family on Darling Hill Road in Lyndonville, VT stands as a testament to her devotion and the faith of Joan and her husband, Richard.

Joan is survived by her husband, Richard James Downing, Sr of Sherborn MA and Lyndonville, VT; her sister, Eleanor Dwyer of Hingham, MA; Twelve sons and seven daughters: Richard Jr. (Elizabeth), Mary (James), Paul (Kimberly), Peter (Barbara), Christine (Kenneth), Christopher (Debbie), Steven (Misty), Ronald (Amy), Michael (Karen), Andrea (John), Lisa (James), Kurt, Kainne (Stacy), Ralph, Christine (John). Michael G., Sirak (Sarah), Netsanet (Aman) and Ida (Michael); As well as 66 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren. (A more detailed list included below.)

Joan was predeceased by her parents, Harold and Alice Desmond, her older brother, Arthur, and her younger brother, Robert.

Calling hours are Sunday, July 19th, 3pm -7pm at the Chapel of the Holy Family, Darling Hill Rd., Lyndonville, VT.  Funeral services will be held at the chapel grounds on Monday, July 20th at 11am.

A memorial service will also be held in Sherborn, MA in August. Dates to be announced.

Donations in lieu of flowers may made to: Chapel of the Holy Family, 884 Darling Hill Rd., Lyndonville, VT 05851

Memories and condolences may be shared online at

More detailed list of children:

Richard Downing Jr. of Stow, MA, fiancée Elizabeth Baranick, and his children, Richard, John, and Jen

Mary O’Reilly of Lyndonville, VT, her husband Jim, and their children, Thomas, Brian, Daniel, Kevin, Anna, Sean, Sarah, and Emma

Paul Downing of Kirby, VT, his wife Kimberly, and their children, Krystal, Kelly, Kathryn, and Kara

Peter Downing of Medway, MA, his wife Barbara, and their children, Rachel and Joseph

Christine Durfee of Lyndonville, VT, her husband Kenneth, and their children, Christina, Nichole, Thomas, Andrea, Casey, Rose, and Michael

Christopher Nasson of Truro, Nova Scotia, and his children, Tracy, Timothy, Emily, Lisa and Melanie

Steven Downing of Lyndonville, VT, his girlfriend Misty Pillsbury, and their children, Bryce, Neveah, Sophie, and Timothy

Ronald Downing of Natick, MA, his wife Amy, and their children, Emily, Maggie, and Patrick

Michael Downing of Medway, MA, his wife Karen, and their children, Elizabeth and Kirsten

Andrea Dupras of Stamford, VT and her husband John and their children, Timothy, Alicia, William, Ariel, Elizabeth, and Manny

Lisa Shanahan of Sherborn, MA, her husband James, and their children, Monica, Christopher, Alison, Nicholas, and Layla

Kurt Hansbury of Lyndonville, VT and his children, Georgia, Finn, and Eli

Kainne Hansbury of Medway, MA, his wife Stacy, and their children, Kylie, Olivia and Addison

Ralph Caldwell of Sutton, VT

Michael Gottke of Foxboro, MA and his children, Kaitlyn and Megan

Sirak Hiruy of Framingham, MA, his wife Sara, and their children, Hannan and Sirak

Netsanet Yibarek of Brooklyn Park, MN, her husband Aman and their children, Ariam and Luam

Aida Ibarek of Dallas, TX, her husband Michael and their children, Hanna and Abraham.

Christine Bradney of Framingham, MA, and her husband John

as well as 33 great-grandchildren

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Downing, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, July 19, 2020

3:00 - 7:00 pm

Chapel of the Holy Family

Darling Hill Rd, VT 05851

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Mass

Monday, July 20, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am

Chapel of the Holy Family

Darling Hill Rd, VT 05851

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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