Jean Louise “Jeannie” Downs, 70, of Mifflinburg, passed away at her home on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
She was born September 28, 1950, at the Sunbury Community Hospital, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, the 5th of 7 children to Martha H. (Turnqueist) and Francis T. Downs.
Jean was raised in the Catholic faith having attended Saint Michael the Archangel School in Sunbury. She later attended Shikellamy Junior and then Senior High School and graduated in 1969.
She had been an active member of the Girl Scouts of America from Brownies through Cadets. She enjoyed nature and the outdoors which was often an inspiration for the many poems she would write and give as gifts to those most dear to her. She was very involved as one of the many scouts who in the 1960’s, gathered together with Girl Scouts from throughout the area from various backgrounds and faiths to meet and develop a wide variety of experiences and trainings in nurturing leadership skills at the Girl Scout “Little House” in Northumberland, PA. Her love of scouting and her realization of its ability as an organization to encourage and support girls to meet their individual potential helped Jean to likewise believe in herself and to achieve her goal of graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education from Lock Haven University.
After graduation, Jean initially followed a familiar path and worked for the Girl Scouts of the Johnstown Region. But anyone who knew Jeannie, knew that she was not one to take the road most traveled. She did not live her life as defined by societies gender restrictions. She enjoyed working with her hands by building things out of a variety of mediums and repairing anything that just didn’t quite work as it should. She had a keen ability to problem solve and to resolve problems by accessing untraditional methods and meager supplies at hand.
Her interests in the trades lead her to employment with Zartman Construction and Norristown State Hospital, which led her to be a proud member of the elite builders and one of the earliest female members of the Navy Seabee’s. Her career in the Navy took her to the frigid coast of Adak, Alaska and to the tropical island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. It was there that she learned how to survive a tidal wave when you are in the middle of the ocean on a flat island. Her resourcefulness and problem-solving skills came in plenty handy there.
But of all her amazing skills and gifts, what was most impressive and precious to those of us who loved her was her unwavering care and concern for her family and friends. Jean provided loving care for her parents, her sister-in-law Betty, and her brother Tom. Beyond these, she supported many other friends and cousins who suffered from debilitating illnesses and diseases. She brought such comfort to each one of these and yet somehow, Jean, while having her own life struggles, was always there to lead a helping hand. She unknowingly brought comfort likewise to the families of those who suffered when Jeannie had their loved ones in her care.
Jean is survived by one brother and sister-in-law, John and Janet Downs of Harrisburg; four sisters and two brothers-in-law, Lorena Downs of Perry Hall, Maryland, Marie “Boo Boo” and Terry Kent of Brentwood, California, Diane and Bob Kuhns of Northumberland, and Kathleen Downs and her fiancé Donald Dziadosz of Mifflinburg; 5 nieces, 1 nephew and spouses, Ann Marie (Downs) and Marcus Renard, Marty (Downs) and John Lipko, Marie Jennifer (Gautsch) and Jeffrey Murphy, Kyle and Nicole Gautsch, Lisa (Kent) and Samuel Salizar, Anita (Kuhns) and Dane Aucker; nine great-nephews and three great-nieces.
Jean was predeceased by her parents, Francis and Martha, and her brother and sister-in-law, Thomas and Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Downs.
She was a faithful member of Saint George Roman Catholic Church, Mifflinburg at the time of her passing. Jean will be sadly missed and forever loved by all those whose lives she touched with her beautiful kind spirit.
Family and friends are welcome to a time of visitation from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, at the Roupp Funeral Home, Inc., 8594 Old Turnpike Rd., Mifflinburg. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Tuesday, at St. George Roman Catholic Church, 775 Forest Hill Rd., Mifflinburg, with Rev. Mark Wilke, as celebrant. Those in attendance must wear masks and social distancing will be in effect.
Interment will be in Pomfret Manor Cemetery, Sunbury. Military honors will be accorded by American Legion Post 44 of Northumberland.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Girl Scouts of America at www.girlscouts.org/donate, or to Women Veterans Alliance at www.womenveteransgiving.org/donate/