Dr. Frederick S. Downs

Dr. Frederick S. Downs

We convey our deepfelt sadness to the Downs family upon the recent passing of Dr. Frederick S. Downs, Woodstock Class of ’49 and Distinguished Alumnus Awardee. Dr. Downs is survived by his wife Mary and children Susan ’78, Rick ’79, and Milton ’81. Mary shares the following:


Dr. Frederick S. Downs, 1932-2024

Dear family and friends,

It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved Fred. He died peacefully in the early morning of May 19, after days of vigil by our daughter Susan and me, as well as visits from our sons, Rick and Milton, their wives Sadhana and Sara, and our grandchildren, Arjun and Julia. I know Fred was comforted by having his family with him during his final days.

Fred lived a full and adventurous life, always game to meet and overcome challenges. He leaves behind rich legacies. These include his deep commitment and service to the people of North East India, as well as his extensive contributions to theological education at the Eastern Theological College, in Jorhat (Assam, India), and at the United Theological College in Bangalore (Karnataka, India). He also made important contributions as a church historian, by helping to incorporate the history of Christianity in North East India into standard Indian Church History. Significantly, he was an early proponent of introducing and supporting doctoral level research among North East Indian students to study the history of Christianity in their region.

Fred’s humor, wit, and story-telling will be greatly missed. Once, Fred recalled a saying among the hill folk where he grew up in North East India, that “a tiger gives you a great ride…until you fall off!” It has been a wild ride for us in his final days and we managed to hang on … until now. Fred will live on in the lives of those he taught, and in the hearts of those who knew him well.

A memorial service will be held on July 26, 2024 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (USA). The family will provide further details, including how to watch a live stream of the service, as soon as plans are finalized.

With much love,

Mary Downs


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