Mary Ann Matthews, dedicated teacher and beloved grandmother, died Saturday, Nov. 21. She was 73 and a longtime resident of Trumbull, CT.
Mary Ann was born in Boston, MA, and moved at a young age across the state to Pittsfield, where she grew up and attended school. Mary Ann graduated with honors from St. Joseph High School, where she was a champion debater. She went on to earn her B.A. from Emmanuel College in Boston then began a long career in teaching at the high school and college level.
Mary Ann taught English throughout her career, including at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, sharing with students her passion for writing and reading, her love of literary and drama classics, and her commitment to proper grammar. While teaching, Mary Ann continued her own learning, earning Masters degrees in education at Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University.
After St. Joseph, Mary Ann continued her career, working at Sacred Heart in teaching and administration, and as researcher at Yale University. Her signature project was a study of the unexpected connections between African Americans and Irish immigrants in America.
Mary Ann was active in retirement for many years, volunteering at local nonprofit organizations including the Merton House in Bridgeport and literacy programs in the Bridgeport school system. At the same time, she developed a relationship with the Beardsley Zoo, becoming a supporter of its programs and an advocate for its mission.
She encouraged her grandchildren to attend the zoo's summer camps so they could learn about wildlife and the environment. Mary Ann treasured all eight of her grandchildren, showing them the love and encouragement that only a grandmother can.
Mary Ann is predeceased by her parents, John F. and Gertrude Downing; her siblings, Gerard Downing and Margaret Downing; and her sister in law, Patricia Thistle. Survivors include her husband of 51 years, Bob; children, Kristin, Tom and his wife Moira, and Jennifer and her husband David Cichetti; grandchildren Eoin, Emmet, Eamon, Maeve, Nuala Matthews, and David Joseph, Maxine and Robert Cichetti; brothers, Jack Downing and wife Jerry, Michael Downing and partner Peter Bryant, and Joseph Downing; her in-laws Pamela Downing and Lewis Thistle; and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, care of Director Greg Dancho.
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