Loretta Blanche Downes


                                November 12, 1923 – January 10, 2018

NOTRE DAME, IN – Loretta Blanche Downes (her friends called her Larry) was born on November 12, 1923, grew up on the north side of Chicago in Rogers Park and graduated from St. Scholastica High School, where she played soccer, softball, and field hockey. 

In between courses at Mundelien College, she worked at Marshall Fields and the Chicago Tribune. On March 6, 1944, she married Frank M. Downes while he was stationed on a Marine base in North Carolina. 

Larry grew up a Cubs fan and was fortunate enough to attend Game 7 of the World Series in 1945 at Wrigley Field with her father-in-law, Francis.

Larry had her first of three children, Michael, eight months prior, and was alternating between living with her parents on the North Side and with her in-laws at the Allerton Hotel, where Francis was the General Manager. Frankwhose boxing buddies at Loyola called him “Mac” was still overseas at the time with the Marines, stationed in China.

After having two more kids, Greg and later Diane, Larry turned to education, where she taught third grade in Skokie, IL. Frank’s career in sales took them East to Ramsey, NJ, where Larry continued teaching. 

They moved back to the Chicago area in 1971, and Larry eventually completed her degree in library sciences, graduating from Mundelein College at the age of 55. 

In 1978, Frank’s career prompted another move, this time to the Houston area. 

Larry worked at the University of Houston – Clear Lake library for over a decade. She was an avid golfer and tennis player, and served on their condo association board for a number of years. 

During their time in Texas, Larry and Frank survived Hurricane Alicia and took frequent trips on their sailboat, traveled throughout the western U.S., and hosted summer visits from grandkids, with regular excursions to Johnson Space Center and Armond Bayou Nature Center. 

Frank died on St. Patrick’s Day in 1992.

The following year, Larry moved to South Bend, IN, and hers was not an idle retirement. She served as an English as a Second Language tutor for four years through the Literacy Council and volunteered to help multiple families earn their citizenship. She delivered books to the elderly for the St Joseph County Library, and served on the Parish Council at Sacred Heart for several years. 

Larry traveled to numerous elder hostels including Austin, Albuquerque, and Sedona, where she also visited the Grand Canyon. She ventured to Mexico, Ireland, England, and once spent almost two weeks with her best friend traveling through the Panama Canal. 

Her sports fandom continued as well, as she closely followed Notre Dame, especially football and women’s basketball, and, of course, the Cubs. 

She was kind, caring, and always inquisitive; a voracious reader, a solid bridge player, and a reluctant phone talker, even with her three grandchildren and two great grandchildren. 

Larry Downes was as unassuming as she was adventurous, as quiet as she was curious, and as underestimated as she was resilient. 

Memorial contributions can be made to Real Services at www.realservices.org (1151 S Michigan St, South Bend, IN 46601) or to WNIT-TV at www.wnit.org (300 W Jefferson, South Bend, IN 46601)