Downie E. Stuart, 92, of Red Bank, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 23 at River view Medical Center, Red Bank. Downie was raised in Eldersville, Pennsylvania, graduated Burgettstown High School, Duf fs Business School, Pittsburgh, and attended Columbia University Teachers College when Dwight D. Eisenhower was university president.
When the United States entered World War II, she joined the war effort beginning in 1944 as a Navy Yeoman, continued in the Naval Reserve after the war and was honorably discharged in 1953. During that time, she met Photographers’ Mate, Joseph P. Stuart (Joe) in Pensacola, Florida, and they were married after dating for four years. They moved to New York City learning to fly private airplanes at Teterboro, even before owning a car. Their son Jeff was born during Hurricane Barbara a few years later.
Joe’s job with Fairchild required them to leave New York and travel by car across the continental US. They eventually visited 49 of the 50 United States, traveling north of the Artic Circle in Alaska before the Al-Can highway was completed and Hawaii to celebrate 50 years of marriage. They visited and photographed multiple National Parks with Downie as Joe’s able photographer’s assistant and Jeff in tow. Fairchild brought the family to Japan where they lived for 2 years. Luck would be with Downie when she went to a military hospital to deliver Ann, narrowly missing a riot enroute.
When Joe’s Air Force contract ended and he returned to the US, she flew home to the states via a connection in Fairbanks, Alaska, with four-year-old Jeff and toddler Ann. Joe, Jeff and Ann finally settled in Red Bank in 1958. Greg surprised everyone a few years later, arriving during a snowstorm in 1962.
Prior to joining the Navy, Downie worked for an accounting firm in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Plate Glass, B&O railroad and the Pittsburgh and Ohio Central Railroad. While attending classes at Columbia University, she worked at IBM, New York City. Later, she was one of the original employees of Bamberger’s when the store opened in Eatontown, was a private secretary for Elizabeth Thomas, Holmdel, and secretary to the Chief of Staff at the VA Hospital, Washington, D.C. Her proudest job was that of wife, mother and grandmother.
Downie and Joe returned to Red Bank where she happily began her retirement job a few years later as an active grandmother to Emily Chris Babeuf, Robert and Matthew.
She was predeceased by her parents, Zora (Kuzmanovich) Elich and Samuel Elich; her husband of 52 years, Joseph P. Stuart; brothers, John Elich, Sam Elich and Stanley Elich; sister, Mildred Todorczuk; and nephew, Stanley Elich. Surviving are her children, Jeffry Stuart (Lorraine) of Key Largo, Florida, Ann Babeuf (Toby) of Rumson and Gregory Stuart (Coleen) of Naples, Maine; grandchildren, Emily and Chris Babeuf; step-grandchildren, Robert and Matthew Foley; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, 201 State Rd., Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ 07722.
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