BURLINGTON—Louise Downey, 62, a long-time resident of Bethel, died peacefully at the Vermont Respite House in Williston June 24, 2008 surrounded by family after a four-year battle with breast cancer.
She was born May 14, 1946 in Orange, N.J. to Edward F. and Irene G. (Hoffmeyer) Downey. The oldest of five siblings, she grew up and was educated in New Jersey, graduating from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, N.J. in 1963. She also graduated from Georgian Court College in Lakewood, N.J. As part of job training, she took courses toward an advanced degree in the emerging bio-technology field. Her primary mission at this time was to facilitate the removal of phosphorus from the waste streams feeding the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.
In 1982, she opened the Rathdowney herb shop in Bethel with her partner Brendan Butler. At one point, there were additional retail locations in Vergennes, Bridgewater and Newfane and Hanover, N.H. Rathdowney products were sold in gift shops and at craft fairs all over Vermont and the United States. The business closed in the fall of 1993, but she continued as a clinical herbalist and went on to become a certified massage therapist, which she enjoyed until the onset of her illness at the end of 2003. Along with her busy private practice, she offered chair massage to the employees of Cabot Creamery for six years.
During her years in Bethel, she was deeply involved in the community. She was active with the Bethel Woman’s Club, serving as president for two years. She supported her children’s classroom and sports activities and worked as a substitute in the school system. She served as a delegate from Bethel to the Democratic State Convention during two presidential cycles.
Survivors include her parents, Edward and Irene Downey of Woodstock; her son, Christopher, and his wife, Deborah, of Nantucket, Mass. and Woodstock; her daughter, Annie, and her husband, David, of North Ferrisburgh; and her daughter, Maggie of Clarksville, Tenn.; five grandchildren: Iris and Oskar of North Ferrisburgh, and Brit, Sumner, Lucas of Nantucket, Mass.; four siblings and their families: Peg Carton of Bernardsville, N.J.; Catherine Downey of Kilaua, Hawaii; Jim Downey of Norwich, and Tom Downey of Stamford, Conn.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will take place August 9 at 11 a.m. at the First UU Society of Burlington. Contributions in her memory may be sent to the Vermont Respite House, 99 Allen Brook Lane, Williston, Vt. 05495.