Ipswich, MA – Nancy Racine Downey, 86, of Ipswich, died peacefully Monday, September 20, 2021 at her home surrounded by family. Nancy was born on July 5, 1935, in Fitchburg, MA, daughter of the late Francis Racine and Helen (McNally) Racine.
She obtained her RN from New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in 1956. That same year she married the love of her life, Jack. They enjoyed an eternal love which started with love at first sight. They raised their three children in Lexington, MA. When the children were older, she returned to school and earned her Bachelors from Wellesley College in 1973, Masters from Harvard University in 1978 and Ph.D. of Philosophy/Educational Psychology from Boston College in 1987.
Nancy’s professional career at Harvard University/Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA spanned 22 years. She retired as the Director of Radcliffe Seminars Program, a position she loved, which enabled her to combine her skills as an administrator with her love of history, education and travel. Also, during this time Jack and Nancy traveled extensively, including throughout Europe, India, China, and Africa, eating great food, seeing the local art and enjoying being together.
She and Jack retired to Great Neck of Ipswich, MA, where in semi-retirement she shifted her work to hospice, bereavement counseling, and as a Eucharistic Minister at Beverly Hospital. Nancy worked as a Bereavement Group Leader at the Hospice of the North Shore and the Danvers Senior Center. She loved Ipswich and was a past president of the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum, and of the LaSalette Faith Community. Through LaSalette Faith Community she developed deep and lasting friendships with the women of her Prayer Group.
Nancy’s greatest joy was family. She was so proud of her children and her grandchildren and loved to get the whole family together for family meals and holidays. She shared her passion for education and travel by taking the whole family on trips to discover the cities of Europe learning history, art and architecture and enjoying great food. Nancy lived each day prayerfully and peacefully, teaching her children and grandchildren the power of love and kindness.
She is survived by her children Jill (Downey) Ricca of Somers, NY, Julie (Downey) Coates and her husband Steven of Ipswich, MA, and John F. Downey III and his wife Susan of Eliot, ME. She is also survived by her treasured grandchildren Jacqueline Ricca, Katherine Ricca, Jason Coates, Blake Downey, and Brooke Downey. Also survived by her sister-in-law Sally Downey, brother-in-law Joseph Downey and many nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she is predeceased by her beloved husband of 39 years, John (Jack) F. Downey Jr., her son-in-law Carlos Ricca and dear cousin George Thibault.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church, 1 Pineswamp Road, Ipswich, MA 01938.