BTCF Blog | Portraits of Generosity: Ed and Meg Downey

BTCF Blog

Portraits of Generosity: Ed and Meg Downey

By Darryl Gangloff / December 23, 2019 / Donor Spotlight
Portraits of Generosity: Ed and Meg Downey

As a Millerton attorney for 45 years, Ed Downey has helped clients realize their philanthropic goals by partnering with Berkshire Taconic. None has inspired him more than his beloved high school history teacher.

Violet H. Simmons taught in the Webutuck district for 48 years. When she retired, friends and former students established a scholarship fund in her name. In her will, she created an endowment at BTCF that transformed the fund, enabling it to grant substantial four-year awards. After Violet’s death, one of her former students, Barbara Thorlichen Riefle, left a large bequest to the fund. Inspired by that gift, other alumni responded with donations, leading to the creation of a second scholarship that allows students to travel and study during a summer in college. This cascading generosity has deeply affected Ed during his tenure as a director of the fund. “Miss Simmons’ values inspired a program that provides Webutuck graduates opportunities for personal and intellectual growth,” Ed said. “It’s a remarkable gift to future generations.”

Ed and his wife, Meg—who, after a distinguished 41-year career in journalism, is now chief marketing officer of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck—have that same drive to support their community. Despite their busy careers, both find time to serve on multiple boards. They opened a donor advised fund at BTCF 20 years ago to make grants to local organizations and respond to urgent needs. Along with Ed’s brother and sister-in law, the couple recently opened an endowment fund to provide a perpetual revenue stream for the North East Historical Society. It is a tribute to Ed’s mother, Leola Downey, who was a Webutuck history teacher and president of the organization—a role Ed now fills.

Family values also shaped Meg’s ideas about generosity. She has an early memory of going with her parents to a Pennsylvania train station to welcome Hungarian refugees from the 1956 Soviet incursion. This gesture of goodwill from one family to another has stayed with her throughout her life. “It shows the impact that you can have on other people’s lives and how one action in the world affects others,” she said.

Inspired by Violet H. Simmons, their parents and the other remarkable people in their lives, the Downeys will continue preserving the history of their community while strengthening its future.

Recent Posts

Berkshire Delegation Shares Budget Updates, Forecasts with Nonprofit Community at Virtual Event

BTCF Blog

Berkshire Delegation Shares Budget Updates, Forecasts with Nonprofit Community at Virtual Event

A meeting held January 11 let nonprofit leaders air concerns and gain updates on government relief.

Remembering Virginia Stanton Smith

BTCF Blog

Remembering Virginia Stanton Smith

BTCF mourns the death of a former board chair and cherished friend.

Tasia Cheng-Chia Wu of Berkshire School Wins $10,000 Kapteyn Prize

BTCF Blog

Tasia Cheng-Chia Wu of Berkshire School Wins $10,000 Kapteyn Prize

The beloved music instructor has been awarded the 12th annual award for excellence in teaching.

Remembering Rhoda Lubalin, Who Helped Students Pursue Careers in the Arts

BTCF Blog

Remembering Rhoda Lubalin, Who Helped Students Pursue Careers in the Arts

With sadness, we share that Berkshire Taconic fundholder and volunteer Rhoda Lubalin of Amenia died on Oct. 19 at the age of 98. For 30 years, her scholarship fund has supported Webutuck High School graduates who intend to study visual arts.

Poet Dan Albergotti Enjoys Productive Solitude of Clampitt Residency

BTCF Blog

Poet Dan Albergotti Enjoys Productive Solitude of Clampitt Residency

Dan Albergotti of South Carolina is the 28th recipient of the Amy Clampitt residency, which provides poets and literary scholars with the time to focus exclusively on their work.

View All Stories