Martha Louise (Downard) McEldowney, age 89, who resided in Leawood, KS, died peacefully and painlessly on Saturday March 2nd 2019 at home.
Martha was born September 6, 1929, at East Liverpool, Ohio, to Harold, who died in 1979 aged 79, and Helen Welch Downard, who died in 2003 aged 103. She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 65 years William Elliot McEldowney who passed on August 16th, 2016.
She studied at Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware and graduated in 1951 with a BA Degree in Education. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. She was capped as the youngest Honorary Red Cross Gray Lady for her four years of volunteer work at the Chillicothe Veterans Mental Hospital from 1947-1951. She attended St. Francis Graduate School, Fort Wayne, pursuing a Masters Degree in Psychology.
On August 24, 1952, Martha married William Elliot McEldowney, son of the late William F. and Margaret Taylor McEldowney. Bill was a volunteer member of the United States Air Force, who had just returned from flying 55 combat missions in Korea and who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight…” along with the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. She was proud of his accomplishments in the Air Force, and also as an employee of a tiny telephone company in Kansas that grew to be Sprint.
Martha worked at a variety of jobs: school teacher in the East Liverpool school district; long-distance telephone operator at Fort Bliss, Texas; film editor at White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico, with a top secret clearance working on missile propulsion; office worker at Roger Dean Oldsmobile-Chevrolet Agency, Athens, Ohio; six years of work with the Nall Hills Elementary School PTA in Kansas; editor of school and church newsletters; teacher of guitar classes in the elementary grades; reading tutor in elementary grades; published writer with a New York agent…among other endeavors, but mostly she liked being a stay-at-home-mom who loved baking after-school treats for her kids and their friends.
For years, Martha was involved in many activities in the Episcopal Church in East Liverpool (choir, Sunday School teacher), Fort Wayne (she and Bill chaired the Sunday Morning Breakfast Club serving 300-500, 1st Grade Church School teacher), and in Kansas where at one time she chaired the Altar Guild and “kept the place together and in good working order” for almost ten years as the new Rector thankfully commented. She was Altar Guild Director for twenty years.
She was a card carrying member of the following: People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Poverty Law Center, Wayside Waifs (a no-kill animal shelter), Amnesty International and other progressive, caring organizations.
She was a Charter Member of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.; contributing member to the Native American Rights Fund, Boulder, CO; contributor to scholarships in several Native American Universities, especially the Oglala Sioux College on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Martha traced her Native American Indian lineage to the wife of John Downard, son of William Downard, Bishop of Chester, England. John came to the New World in approximately 1545 and married a Lenai Lenape (Delaware) Indian maiden with the English name Christine Nood, Feb. 15, 1552, in Bishop’s Hill, Delaware, as recorded in the church registry.
She is survived by a son, Wm. David of Olathe, KS and a daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Hall of Strasburg, MO; by four grandchildren, Neal McEldowney; Kenneth, Emily and Jeremiah Hall, and four great-grandchildren.
If memorial contributions wish to be made, please consider Vitas Hospice who cared for both Bill and Martha, and whose loving attention to detail was instrumental to their peaceful passing. They are truly people of care, help and comfort to the dying and to their families, and were highly recommended by both Bill and Martha and the family, especially Kathy, Sam, Amy, Mary Lou, Tracy, Tom, and Roger. The address is Vitas Healthcare, 13316 W. 98th Street, Lenexa, KS 66215.
If family and friends wish to celebrate her life, she wants them to enjoy their favorite beverage, dance, joke, laugh, love and be kind; above all… celebrate reason.
Her ashes will be inurned with those of her late husband at Leavenworth National Cemetery.