Jean L Downes

December 26, 1924


Jean Lucille (Callender) Downes, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 26, 1924 to her loving parents, Beryl E. Callender and Prince Albert Callender, who were both from Barbados.

A life-long Cambridge MA resident, or “Cantabrigian”, Jean attended Cambridge High & Latin School, graduating in 1943. Soon after graduation, she began working at Ma Bell Telephone Company on Ware Street in Cambridge, beginning as a switchboard operator. Jean excelled at the phone company and advanced to management level, retiring after 35 years of service. (By the way, she was retired longer than she worked.) Mrs. Downes, as she was referred to by her subordinates at work, was also known as Aunt Jean, Jeannie, Gigi, Mama Jean, Ma Downes, My Jeannie and Sis.

Jean met and married the love of her life, Melvin S. Downes and they became the proud parents of a son, Melvin S. Downes, Jr. Married for 51 years until his passing in 2003, Jean and Melvin were a dynamic couple, always on the go. They enjoyed bowling, photography, cooking, camping, dancing and listening to jazz and classical music. Mostly, Jean relished travel, traveling to many states including Alaska and Hawaii, and internationally to such places as South America, Europe, and the Caribbean. She visited Mother Africa three times, though her favorite destination was Barbados which she visited annually for over 30 years.

Jean enjoyed reading books on various subjects, articles about stocks and bonds, and newspapers, especially her beloved Cambridge Chronicle. She read the fine print in everything: whether legal documents, anything to do with her medical history, or even ingredients in medicines and foods. Jean also enjoyed jigsaw puzzles and bingo. She followed current events avidly watching political news and local news. Her favorite TV shows were The View, The Talk, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy and Blue Bloods, and anything on the

OWN channel. One of the highlights of her life was when Barack Obama became President of the United States.

Jean was a long-term member of St. Paul AME Church of Cambridge, which she attended with her husband. They were a well-known couple amongst the family of Bajan members at St. Paul.

The eldest of seven siblings, Jean was preceded in death by her only sister, Audrey who died in infancy, and her brothers: Albert, Arthur, George, Edward, and Vincent. She leaves behind her son, Melvin S. Downes, Jr.; her grandson Azeem Downes (Tara); two great-grandchildren, Kaden and Genesis; her nieces Sheri Callender, Deanna Anemashaun, Danita Callender, Pauline Callender Han (Philip); and her nephew, Duane Callender. She is also survived by her Bascomb niece and nephews: Kenneth, Vinithia, Emerson, Calvin and Michael, and their families; and niece Marsha Dyke of California.



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December 9, 2021

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
A. J. Spears Funeral Home
124 Western Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

Funeral Service
December 9, 2021

11:00 AM
A. J. Spears Funeral Home
124 Western Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

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