Gertrude Olia Downie

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gertrude Olia Downie died Friday, March 10, 2006, at Christian Health Care, Nevada, Mo., at the age of 91. Gertrude was born March 7, 1915, in Union County, Miss., to Joseph Patrick Ryan and Olia Elgin Bryant Ryan.

Joe Ryan worked for the railroad, moving his family to Memphis, Tenn., when Gertrude was a toddler. A few years later the family moved to southeast Missouri, where Joe became a sharecropper. As they grew up, Gertrude and her six brothers often joined their mother and father in the fields picking cotton. Gertrude graduated from Portageville High School.

Gertrude met and fell in love with Laird Downie. Laird was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and had moved to Marston, Mo., with his parents. Laird and Gertie eloped in a truck, crossed the Mississippi River on the ferry and were married at Dyersburg, Tenn., on Aug. 16, 1936.

Laird and Gertie owned and operated a dairy farm and milk delivery business at Charleston, Mo., until 1944. The next six years, with his parents, they leased the Kemper Plantation site, south of Meridian, Miss., on which cattle and hogs were raised. The family moved numerous times in following years -- living in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and one year in Chicago, Ill. Laird worked as a dairy engineer and consultant. Gertie usually held a position of secretary and/or bookkeeper. Upon retirement in 1978, the couple moved to Kiln, Miss., near the Gulf Coast. Laird passed away June 13, 1989.

Gertrude was an avid gardener, quilted, and enjoyed cooking for her family. She and Laird played bridge, each holding the rank of senior master with the American Contract Bridge League. During retirement years the couple enjoyed outdoor activities in the bayou area where they lived in southern Mississippi.

Gertrude was preceded in death by her parents and four brothers, Jerry, Arnold, Everett and Grady.

Survivors include two brothers, Carl Ryan of Puxico, Mo., and Thad B. Ryan of Morehouse, Mo; two sons and two daughters, Donald Downie and wife, Lorraine, Athens, Ga.; Rosemary and husband, Norman Noel, Bronaugh, Mo.; Rod Downie and wife, Ginger, Covington, La.; and Patricia Downie and friend Rick Walsh, Glenburnie, Md.; 10 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are administered by Evergreen Memorial Chapel. Services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, March 17, at Watkins Funeral Home in Puxico, Mo. The family will receive friends there from noon-2 p.m. Following the service Gertrude will be laid to rest near her parents gravesite in Puxico Cemetery.