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3511 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
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Life Story / Obituary
A woman of love, fortitude, and generosity, Margaret R. Downing touched, moved and inspired many during her long resilient life. Margaret devoted her life to her family and cherished nothing more than watching her loved ones grow and capture their own dreams. Margaret was loved abundantly and cherished in the hearts of many. Though she will be sadly missed, Margaret’s legacy will continue to inspire the lives of all who knew her.
With The Great War behind us, 1920 gave birth to many firsts that helped pave the way for a decade of abundance and much celebration for our nation. The year began with high hopes as The Great Steel Strike ended and the US census proved for the first time in history more Americans lived in urban areas than rural. With the inventions of the hair dryer, Qtips, and traffic lights a greater ease and comfort for many became the new normal. Hope grew exponentially later in the year with the ratification of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote, millions of women were working white collar jobs. While riding the post-war quiet and the nation’s feelings of high hope and good fortune, Richard and Elizabeth (Neele) Bosch welcomed the second of their three children, daughter Margaret, into their hearts and home on June 30th in Grand Rapids, MI.
Though Margaret’s early years were spent in the comforts of the 1920s, her formative years were fraught with many of the hardships the Great Depression imposed. These were the years that left lasting impressions on Margaret’s character, hopes, and dreams. While Margaret’s father supported the family by working as a plumber, her mother poured her energies into being a homemaker. The family lived on the West Side of Grand Rapids where Margaret attended W. Leonard and Harrison Park Elementary schools and enjoyed the good company of her brothers George and Richard. The family was very social and enjoyed spending time with each other and with friends. Both their GR home and their cottage on Pretty Lake in Mecosta, MI were frequently welcoming gathering places. Margaret enjoyed fishing and the general good times of life on the lake as well as cracking the whip while ice skating at Richmond Park in the winter. A solid student, Margaret graduated a half year early from Union High School in 1937. She then attended business school in Grand Rapids where she learned shorthand and bookkeeping and soon began working at Grand Rapids Wholesale Company.
After dating her longtime fellow classmate, James Downing, Margaret soon found herself in love. Recognizing their good fortune in being so suitably partnered the happy couple married on May 24th, 1941 in a ceremony held at Margaret’s parents’ home.
Margaret and Jim began their life together in a small upstairs apartment on Eastern Avenue. James worked as a commercial artist and Margaret continued her work at Grand Rapids Wholesale. Their good fortune grew upon the births of their daughters, Margaret in 1943 and Nancy in 1946, and the couple soon chose to purchase Margaret’s parents’ house on Arianna. Margaret centered herself in creating a loving home for her family; she became a dedicated stay at home mom and a frequent Room Mother for her daughters’ classrooms. A natural entertainer who celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary, Margaret loved carefully tending her flower garden and relished in hosting showers and parties. After her father died in 1959, Margaret honorably took on the responsibilities of caring for mother. Grandma became a focal point for the family who spent every Sunday in her home where they shared dinner and fellowship.
1969 proved a year of tremendous loss and change for Margaret. For after a very brief fight with cancer Margaret’s beloved, James died. At only 48 years of age, Margaret found herself a widow and consumed with unimaginable grief. Despite the heartbreak, Margaret chose to persist. She leaned into her signature strong will and continued to embrace each day. With an unwavering resolve, Margaret committed to continuing to live in her family home. As a survivor of the Depression, Margaret knew her capacity to endure in the face of hardship. With a well-honed practice of frugality, Margaret watched her finances carefully and found the way to live off of James’ life insurance alone. Not one to be thwarted by a challenge, Margaret worked hard and successfully cared for her home.
While Margaret enjoyed reading the newspaper from cover to cover, listening to Wood Radio every day and was a long time fan of Lawrence Welk, her family was always her source of joy. She was active in her daughters’ families’ lives and proudly attended the events that were most important to them. Margaret supported her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in all their endeavors. Family gatherings were a time for Margaret to shower her loved ones with her famous Date Nut Bread, the singing of favorite songs, celebrating holidays, and fondly reminiscing the past her fantastic memory easily brought to life. Margaret’s grandchildren quickly learned that she always had little chocolates and Goldfish crackers waiting for them and that all special family events were to be celebrated with a trip to Sweetland’s for ice cream Sundaes. These sweet traditions inspired them to fondly call her, Grandma Candy.
Between her fierce independence and unwillingness to complain, Margaret was able to live on her own until 2012. Though she never learned to drive, she walked to many of her favorite places and often rode with friends. She was a regular at Mr. Fable’s where she often frequented for both breakfast and dinner.
Even though Margaret was enamored by medical advancements and various remedies of the day, she usually refused treatment for her ails. Even when her appendix burst Margaret resisted medical care. Margaret found change generally intolerable; however, after suffering several falls, she moved in with her daughter Nancy and her husband, David. As her health required more care, Margaret moved to Yorkshire Manor where she lived her final years.
The world is surely duller without Margaret’s robust light. Whether it be sharing time with family, the sweet pleasure of a delicious ice cream cone or date bread, driving past the family home, swimming in the lake, sneaking a candy to a child, or powerfully meeting one of Life’s many challenges, Margaret’s family will long feel the strength of her legacy in their hearts and lives.