Ann Eileen Downing was born on December 16, 1937 in Ainsworth NE to Delmer (Fritz)E. and Opal B. (Schrantz) Osborn. The family resided in Springview which then had a population of around 300.
She passed away Wednesday, April 3, 2013 after a long and brave battle with cancer.
Ann attended grade school in Springview and over Christmas break of her fifth grade year the family moved to Hay Spring, NE where her parents built and opened a grocery store, Osborn’s IGA.
She joined the Methodist Church with her mother after moving to Hay Springs.
She attended high school in Hay Spring, graduating in 1955. After graduation Ann attended college at Chadron State College and during the school year she lived with Richard and Ruth Dillon and taught at the Fairview School just south of Gordon. During that time you could teach during the school year and attend college to receive your teaching degree during the summer. Ann started teaching school at the age of 17.
During the time she was teaching at Fairview, she met a handsome young man from Gordon at a Rushville dance named Dale Downing. Three years later, on August 9th, 1959 they were married.
They joined the Presbyterian Church in Gordon and were lifelong active members.
Two children entered their family, a son, Scott Leslie in 1965 and a daughter, Julie Ann, in 1967, who were both adopted through the Nebraska Children‘s Home in Omaha. Ann took a few years off from teaching to be with her children. She went back to teaching in 1972 when Julie started school. Her family was the light of her life and she enjoyed doing almost anything as long as it was with her family.
Ann taught in the Gordon area for 44 years, teaching at two country schools until she was hired at Gordon Elementary School. For all but a couple of years, she taught fifth grade. Over the years her family has had hundreds of people tell them that she was their favorite teacher. She was loved by her students and her fellow teachers. She even had people try and talk her into coming out of retirement so their youngest child could have her for a teacher just like their older siblings, and parents did. There were many people in town she taught that found their children going to Mrs. Downing’s fifth grade class as well. Ann retired from full time teaching in 1999. She continued to substitute teach for a couple of years but always thought it just wasn’t the same as having her own kids all year.
After retiring from teaching Ann, who never stopped working in some way, went to work for her high school friend Suzie Spangler who ran Jefco Inn cleaning rooms. She really enjoyed her job, especially the people that she worked with, and said it gave her good exercise.
In 2003 Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she fought and won the battle with and went into remission for 4 years. A year later Ann volunteered to go down to Louisiana to help rebuild after hurricane Katrina with a group from the church.
In her retirement Ann loved to travel, especially trips with her family and friends. Those two things were the most important thing to her and she stayed close to her lifelong friends. She went on cruises, went white water rafting and loved the balloon festival. She was an avid reader and loved the local library.
She held several offices in the Presbyterian Church, including financial secretary and was still actively serving up until her death. She was honored in the Order of Eastern Star for being a 50 year member and at one time served as Worthy Matron. Ann took part in all of her kids activities, serving as Secretary for Job’s Daughters when Julie was a member. She sponsored several youth trips with the church.
Ann was well remembered for her Vacation Bible School programs. She helped and taught with bible school for many years and was the Head of Vacation Bible School for 8 years. Kids from every church loved to go to the bible school programs she put together and they were all always welcome.
In 2009 Ann was diagnosed with cancer again, which she battled bravely for 4 years. In 2013 Ann passed away after a long hard battle with cancer.
She was preceded in death by her parents - Delmer Edwin and Opal Beatrice (Schrantz) Osborn.
Ann is survived by her husband of 54 years - Dale L. Downing; son - Scott Downing of Gordon; daughter Julie Downing and husband Michael Portella of Fort Collins, CO; grandsons Skyler Abold of Fort Collins, CO; Jacob Downing, Matthew Downing and Michael Downing all of Gordon/Gering; brother Paul Osborn of Hay Springs and many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and many life long friends.
Memorials may be made to the Nebraska Children’s Home Society, 3549 Fontenelle Blvd, Omaha NE, the First Presbyterian Church of Gordon, NE 69343, or the Wounded Warrior Project.
Funeral services were held Monday April 8, 2013, 1:00pm at the First Presbyterian Church with Reverend Debra Kromis officiating. Burial was held in the Gordon Cemetery.
Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.