Downer celebrates 100 years of ‘so many blessings’

Published 4:35 pm Friday, July 23, 2021

Cile Downer of Oxford turned 100 years old on Wednesday and celebrated this spectacular life achievement with family and life-long friends at McEwen’s Oxford.

“I’m just one of these people who are so blessed, they’re afraid to say,” said Downer. “I’ve had so many blessings and so few sadnesses.”

Downer said her secret to living a long and full life was surrounding yourself with positive loved ones and friends.

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“I had a wonderful, happy family,” she said. “I married the right man and we have a lovely child. I’ve got the sweetest family in the whole world.”

Granddaughter Cissy Bacon fondly remembers growing up with her grandmother and describes Downer as a second mother.

“I’m so happy to have her still a part of my life,” said Bacon. “She’s so incredibly special. When I was younger, she took care of me while my dad was in the Air Force and they went to Rio de Janeiro. I learned to walk at her house while my parents were gone. I grew up every summer here in Oxford. She’s like my mom.”

Downer has lived in Oxford for more than 75 years ever since her late husband of 55 years, Robert Selby Downer moved here to attend school. 

Robert Downer was a corporal and an instructor for the U.S. Army Air Force and moved along with cadets from state to state but he retired from the Air Force to get his degree in Oxford. The Downers settled down and soon welcomed their daughter, Elaine, into the family.

“We’ve never left and that was it,” she said. “Oxford is our home.”

Downer reminisces about visiting The Square with her friends and making a day out of shopping.

“Oh, when Kate Baker was on The Square – how we loved Kate Baker’s store,” said Downer. “That’s where we bought dresses and then we’d go over to Hugh’s and buy shoes. Then we’d go to Neilson’s and finish out whatever we needed … and there were no parking meters.”

Downer’s family includes her daughter, Elaine Klotz; son-in-law Paul Klotz; granddaughters Cissy Bacon and Melinda Mercer and husband David Mercer; and three great-grandchildren, Grace Bacon, Melissa and Paul Mercer.