Eleanor Sarah Down
Saturday evening, March 2, 2013 we sadly lost our greatest cheerleader and mentor, affectionately known to many as “Downs”, as she passed peacefully into the arms of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It would be impossible to share all of her 98 years of life in a small space … the task would be too daunting. Suffice to say, she was a multi-faceted individual who through hard work and sacrifice left us a great example to follow. A survivor of the Great Depression, she knew the value of a penny. From humble beginnings, by sheer grit and determination Eleanor and her husband, Harold built a legacy that will not be forgotten.
Both Eleanor and Harold were nurses, as well as hairdresser and barber. They started out their business careers in Summerland where, along with Harold’s brothers, they operated a hotel, hairdressing salon, barbershop and restaurant. Upon their move to Vernon, Harold worked at what was then known as Delview and Eleanor at VJH. It was during this time that Dr. Alexander asked Eleanor to take in what would be the first of many elderly residents.
In 1954 she bought her first hair salon. During the mid 1950’s their number of residents grew necessitating a move to a larger facility, now the Music School on Schubert Ave. In the late 1950’s, they moved to an even larger residence (Green Gables Rest Home) on 43rd Ave. to provide care to an ever growing number of elderly patients. Down’s Residence, as it is now known, has provided residential psychiatric services since 1972.
In 1962 they opened up Sandy Beach Tent and Trailer Court adjacent to Kin Beach. The majority of the trees that stand there today were planted by them. They also operated a riding stable, the Double D.
Faith in Christ was an integral part of her life. She encouraged those with whom she came in contact to use “mustard seed faith”. All things are possible with God was her admonition. She was instrumental with the establishment of the Vernon Christian School. She was a most generous individual with both her time and resources.
She was deeply appreciated as a mentor who encouraged those within her sphere of influence to aim high and dream big. She embraced change and was not afraid to embark into uncharted territory with ambitious enthusiasm. She was remarkable in her ability to relate to all age groups. She possessed a precocious endearing sense of humour enjoyed by all who crossed her path.
She participated in many local and provincial organizations. When she had an agenda to accomplish she was a dynamo that didn’t stop until she saw her idea come to fruition. She sat on the local and provincial Old Age Pensioners which she used as a platform to champion affordable senior housing. Because of her persistence, McCullough Court was built. She loved Vernon and its Winter Carnival. She always armed herself with tourist brochures for the Okanagan whenever and whenever she traveled. In the early days of our bus service in Vernon, she supported the owner by using the service to send some of her residents to a new enterprise … the recycling centre. She had a gift for fundraising. She loved a parade and creatively decorated many floats over the years for various organizations. She was well known for her involvement in Canada Day and the Funtastic Tournament. In honour of her significant community involvement, she received the 1979 “Good Citizen Award”.
Our deepest appreciation is extended to Yvonne Kahgee, whose compassionate care and companionship allowed Mom to achieve her goal of living independently in her beloved apartment during the last few years. We also express heartfelt thanks to Dr. Ken Perrier for his attentiveness to her medical needs. Thanks also to the caring dedicated staff of 2 West who assisted us through this difficult journey.
She leaves to follow in her footsteps: Harold (Chub) Down, his children Greg (Laurelle) Emily / Hailey, Tim (Val) Gabrielle / Abigail; Naomi (Down) Friesen, her children Richard Down (Kim) Nic / Elyse / Sophie, Larissa Pahl (Michael) Amelia / Michael / Matthew / Adalynne, Dustin (Tia) Down; Dixie Bennett (Wayne), their children Chad (Jessica) Blayke, Darren; Chris Down.
She has been reunited with her husband, Harold and two sons, Daryl and Rick.
A celebration of her life will be held at 11am on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Vernon Alliance Church officiated by Pastor Ian Trigg. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Eagle Bay Camp, Fairhaven Ministries or the charity of your choice. Arrangements are being handled by Bethel Funeral Chapel.