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1933 Ann 2021

Ann B. Downs

October 28, 1933 — December 28, 2021

Ann Elizabeth Bryan Downs, Presbyterian missionary, wife, mother, grandmother and friend, died peacefully December 28, 2021, in Atlanta after a long illness. Ann was born October 28, 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee, the only child of Inez Abner George and John Horace Bryan. Her first years were spent in Memphis, then Meridian, Mississippi, St. Paul, Minnesota and, from age 9 through high school, Watervliet, New York, the home of Ann’s beloved stepfather, George Preston. Ann attended college at Virginia Intermont in Bristol, Virginia and obtained a Bachelor of Religious Education from the Assembly’s Training School (now Presbyterian School of Christian Education) in Richmond, Virginia. While at ATS, she met Bertis E. Downs III, a student at Union Theological Seminary across the street. Ann and Bert were married the summer of 1955 in Watervliet, and then moved to the small town of Smithers, West Virginia where Bert had been called as the minister of the Smithers Presbyterian Church. There they welcomed their first two sons, Bertis E. Downs IV and William George Downs. In 1961, the family moved to Taipei, Taiwan to fulfill their calling as missionaries with the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). A third son, Bryan Andrew Downs, was born in 1963. Bert and Ann immersed themselves in language study and campus ministry, preparing for a life of service and ministry. But all changed dramatically in June 1964 when Bert III died tragically in a commercial plane crash. At the age of 30, Ann found herself half a world away, widowed with three little boys. After a period of discernment – briefly returning to Richmond, and then spending a year back in Taiwan – Ann settled the family in the Atlanta area in 1967. She chose Atlanta in large part because it was roughly halfway between her mother (who had moved back to Mississippi) and Bert’s parents in Clifton Forge, Virginia. Ann bought a house with a large yard in a new subdivision in Clarkston. She figured out a way to raise three boys by herself, always providing a loving, nurturing, positive environment. Ann and the boys joined Decatur Presbyterian Church and were active participants in various family and youth activities.

Over the years Ann worked in various positions, including as an Executive Secretary at DeKalb General Hospital, as an aerobics instructor with DeKalb County Parks & Recreation, and as an administrative assistant at Presbyterian churches in the Atlanta area.

While her ministry with Bert in Taiwan was cut short, Ann spent the remainder of her life trying to spread Christ’s love in other, simpler ways. Her warm smile, kind heart and concern for others was a bright light for those who knew her. She loved meeting new people and learning about other cultures. She participated in the inaugural trip of the Friendship Force to Newcastle, England in 1977 and participated in later international exchanges. On any given weekend, she was likely to be attending a festival at an international community center or attending a Presbytery seminar on peacemaking. She volunteered with the Atlanta Ministry with International Students (AMIS), befriending international students studying at Atlanta universities. In her retirement she traveled extensively, including trips to Canada, Europe, Russia, Taiwan, China, and Australia.

Ann loved the arts and enjoyed all kinds of music. She often ushered at the Fox and the Alliance. She was passionate about any kind of dance or movement, from contra dancing to waltz. She was an avid walker, relishing both the exercise and the chance to be in nature.

Ann rarely missed Sunday worship, even when traveling. She sung with joy, memorized hymns, took notes on the sermon, and warmly greeted visitors. Throughout her 54 years of membership at Decatur Presbyterian, she actively supported the work of PCUSA missionaries sponsored by the Decatur congregation and welcomed them when they visited while home in the States.

Ann's was a life that took a sudden, terrible turn in her early years, but she met so many challenges and always looked for ways to turn negatives into positives. She taught her boys – and later her daughters-in-law and grandchildren – lessons of perseverance, generosity, gratefulness, empathy, and love. Through it all, her unwavering faith in God sustained her and provided her with strength and grace.

She is survived by her three sons, Bertis E. Downs IV, William George Downs and Bryan Andrew Downs, as well as her remarkable daughters in law, Katherine Judkins Downs and Nancy Anderson Downs, her grandsons Andrew Walker Downs and Luke Anderson Downs, and her granddaughters Katherine Adelaide Downs and Elizabeth Slane Downs. She is also survived by loving nieces and nephew, Rebecca Downs Bordett, Virginia Downs Corbin, and Eugene M. Downs, Jr. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Ann’s memory to support the Global Missions Ministry of Decatur Presbyterian Church, 205 Sycamore Street, Decatur, Georgia 30030 ( or Refuge Coffee Co (a 501(c)(3)), 4170 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Clarkston, Georgia 30021 ( Ann’s remains will be interred next to those of her late husband, Rev. Bertis E. Downs, III, in Mountainview Cemetery, Clifton Forge, Virginia.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ann B. Downs, please visit our flower store.


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