Charles Stephen Downs

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Charles Downs

Following a long illness, Charles Stephen Downs, 74, died at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md., on December 26, 2013. An Arkansan, Stephen grew up in St. Charles and Hot Springs; excelled in academics, student life, and ROTC at Henderson State; and earned an MA in English at the University of Arkansas in 1962. Subsequently fulfilling his military obligation as a lieutenant, Stephen served as a diplomatic courier at the Pentagon and in military intelligence at Ft. Meade, Md.

Best remembered as an outstanding educator, Stephen worked in Montgomery County Public Schools for 35 years as a teacher and administrator, until his retirement in 1999. He was discharged from the army the same day he started teaching English at White Oak Jr. High in Silver Spring. Two years later, he became English Resource Teacher at Francis Scott Key Jr. High. This was a happy and productive time, for the department flourished with exciting and memorable innovations, all done with hard work and enthusiasm. Then, during his long tenure as Assistant Principal at Takoma Park Middle School, Stephen was able to effectively support students and teachers in such a caring way that he was sometimes referred to as "the heart of the school." He worked to make things a little nicer, a little more comfortable, a little happier. Often, he could defuse tension with humor. There was tremendous respect and camaraderie among the staff.

Stephen was the son of the late Charles Franklin Downs and Mildred Stephenson Downs, both educators. In addition to his wife of 49 years, Martha McNiel Downs, Stephen is survived by his son, Stephen Trevor Downs (Laurie) of Elon, N.C.; his daughter, Ashley McNiel Butters (Justin) of Crofton, Md.; his brother, Jay Franklin Downs of Gettysburg, Penn. and five granddaughters, McKenna Grace Downs, Isabelle Stephenson Downs, Katie Patterson Bell, Sarah Katherine Butters and Emma Grace Butters.

A memorial service was held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Colesville Presbyterian Church, 12800 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, Md., 20904. Memorials can be made to Colesville Presbyterian and to RHS Helping Hands Foundation, P.O. Box 8, Rector, Ark., 72461.