Masonic Angel Foundation Special Broadcast
December 7, 2003
"In Memoriam - Gerald Edgar Downs 1927-2003"
A personal note from managing director Bob Fellows
The Masonic Angel Foundation lost a friend this week. Wor. Gerald E. Downs of Orleans passed away at his home on Thursday after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer. He was two weeks short of his 76th birthday
Jerry Downs joined Universal Lodge in 1996 after a distinguished Masonic career at Joseph Warren-Soley Lodge in Lincoln. He very quickly became a key player in many of Universal's programs. His accomplishments at Universal include: co-chair of summer chowder dinner program, chairman of the CHIP video child identification program, volunteer coordinator for bloodmobiles held at Universal, Senior Warden (1999) and chaplain (2001). Jerry was often the "fix-it man" who solved problems and made our programs work better. A dedicated worker, Bro. Downs was out in the schools filming students for CHIP only a few weeks after a critical heart operation a few years back.
When we established the Masonic Angel Fund in 1998, Jerry Downs was one of our first donors. He is a founding member of the Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc. and retained his membership (and patronage) until the time of his death.
About a year ago, Jerry gave up most of his volunteer positions in the Lodge after being diagnosed with lung cancer. When he told me that he could no longer do the physical work necessary for his duties he re-emphasized that he wanted me to "think about something" he could do for the Foundation.
When he returned from Florida last spring, Jerry again asked me to find something he could do for the Foundation. I mentioned to him that we needed someone to scan the Chronicle of Philanthropy every week and identify private foundations whose mission seemed a good fit with the Masonic Angel Fund. To do this properly, one needed to scan the private foundation section of the Chronicle and then visit each donor's web site. This is a time-consuming task. Jerry volunteered to do it. As he identified a possible match, he forwarded all of the information he gathered to MAFI Board member Chris Whichard who would follow up on the "lead".
I have vivid memories of Jerry visiting my office throughout the spring and summer to go over his project. There were many times that it was difficult to see him, obviously in great pain, patiently discussing MAF matters.
Jerry loved cats. At the offices of my software company we are privileged to have two cats. Rebel is an eight-year-old, twenty-six pound tabby and Edward is an eight month old tabby kitten. I cannot begin to say how much attention Jerry lavished on my cats. I think he may have visited here so often to see the cats, rather than to see me! In fact, the very last time he came to my office he brought a toy for each of the cats.
Gerald Downs was a great friend to the children of our community. Through his work with CHIP, he provided ID kits to hundreds of families in the towns our Lodge serves. His support of the Masonic Angel Fund and our Foundation helped to bring assistance to children in need throughout the MAF system.
In September, Wor. Gerald Edgar Downs was awarded a Certificate of Meritorious Service from the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Jerry was very pleased by this great honor. Local Masons were embarrassed when the presentation was bungled - not once, but twice! The first presentation never happened due to a scheduling mix-up. The second presentation went well - until it was discovered the certificate was engrossed to "George" instead of "Gerald"! Jerry was, as always, a gentleman about these foul-ups. He applied the barbs of his piercing wit and then moved on. Fortunately, Jerry finally received a correctly engrossed certificate about three weeks before he died.
On Monday, November 24th, Jerry called me to say that he had "talked turkey with the doctor" and it appeared there was not much more that could be done for him. He was looking forward to Thanksgiving and seemed up-beat considering the circumstances. During this conversation I was pleased to tell Jerry that his home Lodge - Joseph Warren-Soley Lodge - had just opened a Masonic Angel Fund. We talked about what grants they might qualify for and how pleased Jerry was they had become part of the MAF family. Little did I know this would be our last conversation.
Last Wednesday afternoon I called the Downs house to chat with Jerry about the JWS Masonic Angel Fund and to tell him we had sent them their $500 start-up matching grant. I was shocked when his daughter told me that he was in a terminal decline and that it was too late to visit.
The next morning Jerry's daughter Carol called to say that he had passed away early in the morning.
I was surprised to hear that Jerry had requested that memorial donations be sent the Universal Lodge Masonic Angel Fund in lieu of flowers. Indeed, he was thinking of our local children and the MAF right up until the end.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant!
Cape Cod Times – Sunday, December 07, 2003
Gerald E. Downs, 75
Independent insurance adjuster for 49 years
ORLEANS - Gerald E. Downs, 75, died Thursday at his home.
He was the husband of Elaine (King) Downs.
Born, raised and educated in Belmont, he graduated from Lawrence Academy and Massachusetts. Maritime Academy in 1949. He was in the Naval Reserve for 21 years, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He was an independent insurance adjuster for 49 years, retiring in 2000. A resident of Belmont for 54 years, he then lived in Lincoln for 18 years and in Orleans since 1996.
He was active in the community, serving as past president of the Men's Garden Club of Greater Boston, as a Belmont Town Meeting member from 1953 to 1979 and as Belmont cemetery commissioner from 1959 to 1977. He was a member of the Belmont Auxiliary Police, retiring as captain after 23 years of service. Mr. Downs was active in several organizations, including Universal Lodge AF&AM in Orleans, where he was a founding member of the Masonic Angel Fund, Sylvester Baxter Royal Arch Chapter of Masons in Orleans and Orleans Yacht Club. He was a member of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Besides his wife, survivors include two daughters, Diane Downs of Miami Beach, Fla., and Carol Wilson of London, England; two grandchildren; and four nieces.
A graveside service is at 10 a.m. Friday at Orleans Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. at Church of the Holy Spirit, Orleans.
Memorial donations may be made to Universal Lodge Masonic Angel Fund, P.O. Box 1389, Orleans, MA 02653.