Obituary, Mary Ellen Downey

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Mary Ellen Downey, 93, passed peacefully in her sleep at her home in Amenia on December 16, 2021. The eldest daughter of Walter and Florence (Licht) McDonald, Mary Ellen was born in the Bronx on March 14. She graduated from Immaculate Conception School and Amenia High School. On February 12,1942, she married her high school sweetheart, Thomas Joseph Downey, Jr., who predeceased her in 2004. She was a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Church and Catholic Daughters of America.

Mary Ellen actively mothered her three children and many of their friends through Boy and Girl Scouts, 4H, and numerous athletic programs while juggling a variety of careers in telephone switchboard operation, retail, election inspection, and therapy assistance. In her younger years, she was an avid bowler, skier, gardener, camper, and horsewoman in the Bit-N-Spur club. After raising her family, she pursued her lifelong dream and obtained a BS from SUNY New Paltz and a Masters in Social Work from CW Post. Mary Ellen’s final career as a social worker for developmentally disabled adults was her true calling and she maintained strong relationships with both clients and coworkers throughout her life.

In retirement, Mary Ellen enjoyed baking, working at Fitch-Kain tag sales, and a variety of needlecrafts. Sewing more than 100 quilts for family, friends, and charitable organizations gave her great pleasure. Her genealogical interest led to active membership in the Amenia Historical Society and Indian Rock Schoolhouse as well as local research for an extensive McDonald family reunion in 2002. Mary Ellen was very proud of her Irish heritage and had fond memories of her and Tom’s trip to Ireland with the Gallaghers.

In addition to her parents and husband, Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her sister Patricia Macura, her daughter-in-law Deborah Downey, and her great-grandson Dolan Thomas Duncan. She is survived by her sons, Thomas III (Moira), Robert (Bernadette), daughter Deborah Smith (Edward), brothers Walter and Joseph (Gail), sister Anne Cutolo, sisters-in-law Ellen Caldarelli and Catherine Gallagher (Edward). She will be missed by her grandchildren Michelle Downey-Demczar (Joseph), Rebecca Duncan (Steven), Thomas Downey IV (Kimberly), Robert Downey Jr, Kimberly Hazzard (Zachery), Zachary Smith (Casey), and Nicholas Smith (Jennifer), and her beloved great-grandchildren Braeden, Thomas, Reilly, Liam, McKenna, Skarlytte, Addyssyn, Jameson, and Korben as well as numerous step grandchildren, step great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and many dear friends.

Calling hours will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at Hufcut Funeral Home, 3159 Route 22, Dover Plains, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at Immaculate Conception Church, 4 Lavelle Rd., Amenia, NY. Burial will follow at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Amenia, NY.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations to Immaculate Conception Church, 4 Lavelle Rd., Amenia, NY 12501 or the Amenia Historical Society, P.O. Box 22, Amenia, NY 12501. To send the family an online condolence, please visit

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Author: Harlem Valley News