Margaret E. "Peg" Downing
1948 - 2020
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Miss Margaret E. "Peg" Downing, age 71, died early Friday evening at Berkshire Medical Center after a brief illness. Born in Pittsfield, November 10, 1948, she was the daughter of the late John F. Downing Sr. and Gertrude Martin Downing. Peg graduated from St. Joseph's Central High School in 1966, Berkshire Community College in 1968 and earned her baccalaureate degree at Trinity College, Burlington, VT in 1970. She later earned her Master in Education from Boston College.

A lifelong educator, Peg began her teaching career at St. Joseph in 1971. She transitioned to the School's Guidance Department, became Head of the Department, and went on to become the first lay person appointed Principal of the High School. Peg retired from St. Joseph in 2007 and became principal of Catherine McCauley High School in Portland, ME. Most recently, Peg was appointed principal of Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, MA

Peg served as President of the Board of Trustees at Trinity College and was the recipient of the Gladys Allen Brigham "She Knows Where She is Going" Award which honors a woman annually who makes a difference in the Berkshires and is a role model for girls. Genuinely interested in bringing positive change to the lives of all her students, Peg enjoyed traveling internationally over the years with the SJHS students to help broaden their experiences. In addition to her academic focus, she also enjoyed coaching the women's basketball teams at St. Joseph's.

She is survived by her three brothers, John F. Downing, Jr. of Pittsfield and his wife, Mary, Joseph D. Downing of Westboro, Ma. and Michael B. Downing of Cambridge, MA and his partner, Peter Bryant and her sister, Mary Ann Matthews and her husband, Robert, of Trumbull, CT, her sister-in-law Pamela J. Downing of Pittsfield who survives her late husband, Gerard D. Downing. Peg is also survived by many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, John and Gertrude and brother Gerard, she was predeceased by two nephews, John Tobin Downing and Nathaniel Snow Downing.

Peg loved books, beaches and singing and sharing those pleasures with those who knew and loved her.

At Peg's request, please send no flowers. She asked that you follow her lead and donate instead to either the Haiti Plunge Relief Efforts or to Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, both in care of the DEVANNY-CONDRON FUNERAL HOME which has been entrusted with her care. She hoped you would share her commitments to education and caring for others.

SERVICES: Calling hours at St. Charles Church, 89 Briggs Ave. Pittsfield, will be on TUESDAY, Jan. 28th from 4 to 7 pm. Continuing with the Celebration of her life on WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29th at 11am, a Liturgy of Christian Burial will be concelebrated with the Rev. A. Peter Gregory, former pastor and Chaplin at Soldier On, as the chief celebrant and the Rev. Dr. John F. Touhey, the administrator at St. Charles Church, officiating. Burial will follow in the family lot with her parents at St. Joseph's Cemetery at a later date.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Jan. 27, 2020.
Calling hours
04:00 - 07:00 PM
Celebration of Life
11:00 AM
St. Charles Church
Memories & Condolences
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23 entries
January 21, 2021
Mentor Extraordinaire. 2021: One year since Peg left us so quickly. What this woman contributed to my life has affected me deeply, and I pass on much of her wisdom to others. I also so appreciate how far she came to support me at the funeral of my Father .. knowing the importance of the relationship I had with him. She had such amazing insight deep into someone's soul .. a rare gift. She opened doors that I had been pushing against for years: especially to take my students traveling and support the fine art program I was expanding. She changed lives always. Miss you, Peg. Thank you.
Terrilynn Dubreuil
January 30, 2020
I first met Peg when I began my full-time teaching career at St. Joe's. She was my dear friend, colleague and mentor.

I am deeply saddened by the news of her death. She was a terrific role model for a new teacher to emulate. Her confidence, generosity, counsel, laughter, and love was boundless. She was the best of the best.
Paul Ellis-Graham
January 29, 2020
So many memories...both at Notre Dame and St Joe's. Meeting in the ally to walk to school, Gert's ironing the bed sheets, the family rosaries, the visit from Ted Kennedy and saving his tea cup, Peg's amazing ability to read countless books, the Downing Family's strength and love. My life was enriched by my friendship with Peg, and I know that Peg and all the Downing family have made this place a happier, more joyful and holier place.
Jane Harper
January 29, 2020
Despite the disparity in ages, Peg and I were good friends at BCC. She had just graduated from high school, and I was a young mother with three children, but we instantly connected. We laughed a lot, and my time at BCC was brightened by her friendship, affection and support. It has been 52 years since we graduated, but I have not forgotten this special woman.
January 29, 2020
Dear Downing Family, My Sincerest Sympathies on the passing of Peg. Our Families go back to Notre Dame and prior with my parents and your Dad as well. I and one of my siblings knew Peg and Gerard well, and a memory I've always held close is Peg singing "Winter Wonder Land" at Christmas, while we were in the eighth grade. She was pitch-perfect and most impressively knew all the words. To this day when I hear that song, I think Fondly of her and always will. This is how people live on. It's obvious that she continued on the road of Excellence through her life and left a similar mark on the minds, hearts, and souls of thousands along her Journey through life. We spoke only a few times through the years and (the 13-14-year-old) Peg was always there. Time will march on, we too will pass, I only hope to be remembered but a smidgen as well as she.
Greg Meunier
January 29, 2020
Peg and I were classmates at St. Joe and shared many classrooms together. Her leadership and interpersonal skills were very evident then.

In the early 2000's, I was fundraising for the American Leukemia Society regarding my brother Chip, St. Joe Class of 1968. I went to St. Joe and asked Peg who was the St.Joe principal at the time,if she could help me.

At best, I was hoping for an email list of the Class of 1966, but Peg went ahead and gave me the email addresses and printed mailing labels for the classes of 1966-1969! This was an immense help and the St. Joe Alumni were very generous with their donations.
My sincere condolences to all of the Downing family for their great loss.

Bob Connors, St. Joe Class of 1966
Bob Connors
January 29, 2020
To all pegs family we send our deepest sympathy for your loss. Peg will always be remembered as a leader in education and her commitment to her students. Thankfully all of our children had her love and knowledge during their school years. May you find peace in her memories. I was honored to work with her and will miss her dearly. Love and prayers to you all jeffrey and MIchele Drysgola
Michele Drysgola
January 28, 2020
To The Downing Family,

I wanted to let you know how sad I was to learn of Peg's death. She was truly a wonderful person and fantastic educator. I had Peg, her first year of teaching at St Joe's and my first year as a student there. I will always remember what a great teacher she was and how much I enjoyed her class. In later years, as I got to know her on a professional level I was always impressed with her kindness, knowledge and sense of humor. She will be truly missed.
Michael Connors
January 28, 2020
To the Downing Family,

We are saddened to read of Pegs passing. Truly a wonderful person and educator. She knew how to speak with the students and earn their respect at the same time, not an easy feat to accomplish. She did so with compassion and they loved her back.

Our Sincerest Sympathy,
Herb and Joanne Wyand (and sons)
Joanne Wyand
January 28, 2020
I am deeply saddened to hear the passing of Peg. I have known her for years during her visits in NY and my stay while in MA when I attended BCC. She had a great personality and wonderful smile she shared with everyone. She will truly be missed but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Paula Guyette
January 28, 2020
Our prayers are with the Downing family. Peg's personality touched so many. She will be missed!
Linda and Art Johnson
January 28, 2020
We are so sorry for the passing of your mom. She will be missed by many. She was kind thoughtful woman.
Mary & Francis Sheltry
January 27, 2020
My prayers at this sad time. Sorry for your loss.
Joseph Maciora
January 27, 2020
Miss Downing was my teacher at St Joe 1972-1973. What I remember most is how she
kept me interested in class. She would never sit at her desk like some teachers but instead stand and move as she shared her knowledge. At age 24,she was animated and brought life to the class!

A couple of guys enjoyed bullying me almost daily all 4 years at St Joe so I have very few happy memories of those days. However, it gives me great pleasure to say Peg's classroom made me feel safe and her teaching helped me forget those bullies for at least that short time during her class.

A kid like me didn't have anywhere to turn back then to stop those bullies. Things were much different almost 50 years ago, if one was bullied one felt ashamed and wouldn't talk about it to anyone including parents. I bet if Peg was a 24 yr old teacher and I her 15 yr old student in this year of 2020 I would today feel VERY comfortable to go to her for help and guidance.

Miss Downing, this 63 year old former student remembers you with great fondness. God will undoubtedly give you well deserved blessings for all eternity and you will enter heaven to join all the other superb teachers known to mankind !
Pat Sorbara
January 27, 2020
Peg, you were one of the most influential people in my life and a faithful friend. Honest, insightful, witty, intelligent, caring ... you could always see what was unseen, those things deep within, things that others did not see.
You came from so far last fall to be with me at my father's memorial .. to tell me how you totally understood the exceptional relationship I had with him .. and how you understood my loss. You touched me SO deeply then .. I will never ever forget ...
Many years before, at McAuley High, you advocated for me in times when others did not. You never doubted, you KNEW. You defended me without question, because you always understood the deep within heart of me.
You opened many doors for our students, one being travel abroad which was previously unavailable to us and which, I know, changed many of their lives.
You are one of the most unique, honest, wise and special people I have ever known. You gave totally of yourself, supported and loved others without worry of reciprocation.
I hope Claire continues to enjoy the watercolor of Higgins Beach .. I know you loved that spot.
I can not thank you enough for being my friend and for just being you. I was so hoping to visit this spring when I was back in New England and glean more of your wisdom and laughs. I am in shock and sorrow.
But your Spirit will always be with those you loved .. and who still love you.
Terrilynn Dubreuil
January 27, 2020
We grew up across the street from her and her mother was my mother's best friend. I walked to school with her often. In the years after I would occasionally see her when I was in Pittsfield. I admired her commitment to education and to the youth of the Berkshires. I always enjoyed her intelligence and laconic opinions. I will certainly miss her. She left us far too early. My thoughts and especially prayers are with her family.
Charles Trzcinka
January 27, 2020
Dear Michael and family, when I think of Peg, I remember her laugh. Remember the good things in the times ahead. She will be sorely missed.
Annie Rodrigues
January 27, 2020
Miss Downing! My heart is heavy today because the world is a little less beautiful without her in it. I was lucky enough to have Miss Downing for Psychology my senior year at St. Joe. LOVED her sense of humor and her commitment to the success of her students. Elaine and Family - so sorry for your loss!
Michelle (Armstrong) Sargis
January 27, 2020
I have nothing but fond memories of Coach Downing and her kindness and sense of humor. She embodied all that St. Joseph High School was. She will be truly missed. Deepest condolences to her family.
January 27, 2020
Peg was the best. She commands a prominent place on my HS years' highlight reel. So sad.
Dan Crocker
January 27, 2020
We love you Peg!!
Thanks for making a difference.
The Rainey Family
January 27, 2020
Heaven is BOOMING right now with joyous laughter and SONG! I can feel it from Earth! We will keep Peg's spirit alive as ever by letting our light shine for others and emulating the great example she set. With love and appreciation we celebrate PEG- and ALL educators!
Deirdre Whitman
January 27, 2020
What a beautiful picture! Peg was the best! I had no idea she was a fairly new teacher when I had her at St. Joe. She was clearly a natural with teaching and kids, as she was so wise and seasoned even back then. Peg had a great sense of humor, a hugely giving heart, and an easy smile and kind word for all. I am so sorry for your loss.
Cathy Hibbard Salvini
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