As a young girl, Dolores M. Downing survived a yearlong battle with polio, flashing the same courage and determination she later showed while struggling with lung cancer in recent months.
Mrs. Downing, an avid golfer, reader and gourmet who devoted her time to numerous charitable organizations, died Easter Sunday in her Orchard Park home, surrounded by her family. She was 74.
A Buffalo native, the former Dolores Connelly was nicknamed "Punkin" by herfather at birth, and it was a name that followed her throughout her life. Her father, a captain in the Navy, moved the family to Virginia Beach, Va., Bethesda, Md., and Garden City, N.Y., before resettling in Buffalo when Mrs. Downing was in fourth grade.
She attended St. Mark's School and graduated in 1954 from Holy Angels Academy, where she was treasurer of her sorority, Sigma Rho Epsilon. After graduating from Rosary Hill College in 1958, she worked in the chemistry department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
While attending St. Mark's, she met herfuture husband, Franklin G. Downing Sr. They married in 1960, and shortly after that, he established Towne Automotive Group in Orchard Park.
An avid golfer, Mrs. Downing shot a hole-in-one at Cherry Hill Club and was an active member of the Ladies 18-Hole groups at both Cherry Hill and the Country Club of Buffalo.
Mrs. Downing also was a longtime member of a women's bridge group, an investment club and a book club. She also was a talented gourmet and enjoyed entertaining, family members said.
She and her husband visited more than 30 countries over the years.
The Downings celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last summer.
Survivors, in addition to her husband, include four sons, Dr. Stephen W., Franklin G. Jr., David M. and Matthew M.; two daughters, Molly D. Regan and Gretchen M. Cappiello; a sister, Ann C. Scherer; and two brothers, Michael G. and Kevin J. Connelly.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday in Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, South Buffalo Street and Thorn Avenue, Orchard Park.