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Mary Louise Downer

Mary Louise Geis Downer
April 26, 1921 - May 30, 2014

Mary Louise Downer, 93, a 60-year San Marino resident, passed away May 30, in her home, with family by her side. She is survived by her husband, Dan, children David, Richard, Steven and Christina, a daughter- and son-in-law, five grandchildren, one great-granddaughter and many nieces and nephews.

Mary Lou was born in Montana to Homer and Gladys Geis. In 1923, the family relocated to South Pasadena and, soon after, Mary Lou's sister, Barbara, was born. The girls lived near each other the rest of their lives.

Mary Lou attended South Pasadena schools, graduating high school in 1938. She attended Monticello and Pomona Colleges. After graduation in 1942, Mary Lou worked at the Los Angeles Times, first as a copy "boy" and then in the editorial women's department before taking a reporting job. On September 1, 1945, she and Dan were married in Juneau, Alaska.

Mary Lou and Dan returned to Los Angeles and eventually settled in San Marino in 1954. There Mary Lou devoted herself to her children and was active in the PTA, the Assistance League, and PEO. She also was a strong supporter of the Pasadena Playhouse, Huntington Hospital, Huntington Library, San Marino Historical Society, and the San Marino Community Church. Mary Lou loved cooking and entertaining. She traveled widely, most ambitiously taking a four-month odyssey throughout Europe in the summer of 1963 in a Volkswagen bus, accompanied by her father, her sister, their combined seven children and, at times, both husbands. In the late 1970s, she joined her sister on a trip to China with the second group of outsiders allowed into that country following its re-opening to the West.

Mary Lou never lost her passion for writing. During the 1950s, she wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times recounting her experiences with young motherhood; years later she filled in as society editor of the San Marino Tribune. She was a published children's author, a long-time member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and a charter member of the "Lunch Bunch," a prolific group of local authors who attended a PCC writing class together in the 1970s, and has met regularly ever since.

Mary Lou had a wonderful wit and was a caring correspondent; she was generous and considerate, talented and creative, a joy to know and an inspirational presence who will be profoundly and forever missed by her family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at San Marino Community Church, 1750 Virginia Road, Saturday, June 21, at 11:00 a.m. Donations may be made to the PEO - Chapter DG, "Mary Lou Downer Scholarship Fund" in care of Sue Barry, Treasurer, 2820 Lorain Road, San Marino, CA 91108.

Published in Pasadena Star-News on June 17, 2014
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