Blanche Hall Downey died on Monday, February 4, 2019 at the age of 95. She was the wife of the late J. Kenneth Downey who died in January of 2010 and the fourth and last child of the late Henry W. Hall and Marion Gifford Hall, Smith. The Hall school was named for her father. Blanche always was proud of the fact that both her father and her husband were school principals on Cape Cod.
Blanche graduated from the Lawrence High School in 1940 and attended the Hyannis State Teacher’s College the following year. In the summer of 1941 she took what she thought would be a summer job as a dental assistant to Dr. George H. Green in the little white office next to the post office in Falmouth center. Her temporary job lasted 4 ½ years and she then decided to go back to school to become a dental hygienist. She graduated from the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists in Boston in 1948. Upon graduation she applied and was accepted for a place on a dentistry team funded by the U.S. Public Health Service. The purpose of the teams was to demonstrate how to apply fluoride to children’s teeth. When funding was reduced, Blanche joined Alice Dalzell, the Barnstable County Dental Hygienist, and together they continued the program on the upper Cape until 1993. Blanche loved her job and felt she was definitely helping many children.
She married J. Kenneth Downey in 1951, after meeting him in Wareham where they were both working. Ken was teaching at the time. In 1953 they spent the school year at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, where Ken taught 4th and 5th grade at the base school. They returned to the states after one year so Ken could get more experience. He taught in Montclair, New Jersey and Blanche got a job as a dental hygienist with Dr. Fergueson in Montclair.
Blanche and Ken returned to Falmouth in February of 1957 to await the birth of their first child John. Their second son Mark was born in 1961. They settled in South Yarmouth in 1961 and Blanche resumed her career as a dental hygienist after her sons were in school, first working for Dr. Gagnon, and later in Falmouth for Dr. DeMello and Dr. Wall. Her career took her to many places on the Cape including Nantucket. After she retired she became a Hospice Volunteer for several years, a job she truly enjoyed, bringing gladness and friendship to those she cared for.
In retirement Blanche also became an active volunteer in the St. David’s Episcopal Church in South Yarmouth. She was the “Queen” of the thrift shop there for many years. When the Downey’s returned to Falmouth in 2006 she joined the Falmouth Hospital Thrift shop and volunteered as a greeter at the Falmouth Hospital. She finally retired from all these activities at 88.
She spent her last years in Falmouth, she and Ken moving to an apartment attached to the family home on Pelican Lane. Her nephew the late Bob Pettengill and his wife Debbie became her closest friends and companions. She and Ken were members of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Blanche spent her final years at Atria Place in Falmouth, where she made many friends with the other residents and staff.
Blanche is survived by her son John of San Francisco, her son Mark and his wife MaryEllen of Redlands, CA, her brother Kenneth Smith and his wife Marion, nieces Linda Hernandez, Deborah Pettengill, and Kathleen Hall, and nephews Stephen Hall and Kenneth Smith Jr and his wife Cheryl, all of Falmouth. Blanche also is survived by many nieces and nephews, great and grand nieces and nephews, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by her sister Helen Pettengill and her husband William, her brother Hooker and his wife Bernice, her brother Arthur and his wife Ruth Mills Hall, and her nephews Bob Pettengill and Bob Hall.
A memorial service will be held at Atria Place, 389 Gifford Street, Falmouth on Sunday, February 24th, 2019, at 2 pm.