Mrs. Meta Downes, 73, passed away Wednesday, February 24, 2010 in Pitt County Memorial Hospital surrounded by her family. The funeral service will be conducted Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Burial will follow at Pinewood Memorial Park.
Meta was born in Newark, N.J., the daughter of Walter and Marie Michaelsen, both Danish immigrants. She graduated as the Valedictorian of her 1958 class at Bethany College, Bethany, W.Va. before earning a Masters Degree in French from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Ver. and the University of Paris (Sorbonne) as a Fulbright Scholar in 1959.
Meta married Sheldon Downes in 1959, and raised her family in Morgantown, W.Va. and State College, Pa. before settling in Greenville in 1967. Meta was a teacher her whole life, teaching high school French and Spanish, and college French at West Virginia University, Penn State University and East Carolina University. She earned a Master Degree in Speech Pathology in 1974 and another in Audiology in 1984 from ECU and joined the Department of Communications Sciences & Disorders at ECU where she served as an Associate Professor from 1974 until 2010.
Meta sent hundreds of trained speech pathologists into the world, and won many professional awards in the process, including: Honors for Outstanding Contributions to Students and the Profession, ECU Chapter National Student Speech Language & Hearing Association (1982); Honors of Speech-Language-Hearing Area Resource Exchange (1989); Advisor Honors, National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1990); Honors, NC Speech-Hearing-Language Association (NCSHLA) (1992); Dean's Award for Outstanding Advising, ECU (1999); Guardian Angel Award, NCSHLA (1999); American Speech-Hearing-Language Association "Year of the Volunteer" Honors (2003); NC Supervisor of the Year, NCSHLA (2004); NC Association of Supervisors in Speech Pathology & Audiology (2004); Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, Bethany College (2005); Clinical Achievement Award, NCSHLA (2009); and, ECU Faculty Marshall (2009, 2010).
Meta's musical talents were shared with many, with 55 years of singing in church choirs, including 37 years with First Presbyterian Church. Meta served her country as the wife of a Marine, the mother of a son and son-in-law, also Marines, and a daughter who was a Civilian Marine. Meta and her husband celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2009.
She is survived by her husband, Sheldon Downes of Greenville; her son, Eric Downes and wife, Kim, of New Market Md.; daughters, Karen of Winston Salem, Sonja Ellington and husband, Greg, of Burlington, and grandchildren Kathryn Downes, Ryan Downes and Kirsten Ellington.
The family will receive friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home tonight from 6 – 8.
Memorials may be made to the Meta Downes Endowed Scholarship in Communications Sciences and Disorders, ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, 525 Moye Blvd, Greenville, NC 27834, or to First Presbyterian Church, 1400 S. Elm St., Greenville, NC 27858.
Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com.
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Published in The Daily Reflector on Feb. 26, 2010