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 www.saylesfh.com
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