Joan Marie Downing, 88, of Sherborn, Mass. 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, Mass. 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 six 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, Mass. 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, Mass. and Lyndonville, Vt.; her sister, Eleanor Dwyer of Hingham, Mass.; 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.
Joan was predeceased by her parents, Harold and Alice Desmond, her older brother, Arthur, and her younger brother, Robert.
Calling hours are Sunday, July 19, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 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 11 a.m.
A memorial service will also be held in Sherborn, Mass. 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.